Industry insiders from Automotive News are calling the US new car market at 11.5 million units for the year. This is based on year to date figures for sales of cars and light trucks of 8,573,732 units, a rise of 10.4 percent.
A final figure of 11.5 million units would amount to a 10.2% improvement on last year but it should be remembered that 2009 was the worst for new car sales since 1982.
When measured against 2007, which was the last of 9 consecutive 16 million plus sales years, we can see what a stark difference there is, even though many are hailing the YTD figures as a turnaround in fortunes. Prior to 2007 the US motor industry 16 million units a year was very much the norm so there doesn’t seem too much to get excited about in 2010.
Total sales in 2007 were 16.2 million units and if the estimate of 11.5 million units for 2010 turns out to be accurate then it would represent a 29% drop indicating the US automotive industry is still quite some way from recovery.
The September figure of 959,049 units was certainly better than expected, but a closer look at the same month in 2009 shows us that it was the first month after the highly successful “cash-for-clunkers” incentive program (the US version of the UK scrappage scheme) so sales would certainly have been depressed and compared with 2007 the market was a whopping 27% down.
With the latest news from China predicting sales of 17 million units for the year we can not only see a shift in the balance of power but also the direction in which a lot of the major manufacturer’s attention is going to be focussed.