Friday, October 05, 2018

Annual Vehicle Sales: On Pace to decline in 2018

by Bill McBride on 10/05/2018 02:37:00 PM

The BEA released their estimate of September vehicle sales. The BEA estimated sales of 17.36 million SAAR in September 2018 (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate), up 4.5% from the August sales rate, and down 4.0% from September 2017 (Sales in September 2017 were strong following the hurricanes).

Through September, light vehicle sales are on pace to be down slightly in 2018 compared to 2017.

This would make 2018 the sixth best year on record after 2016, 2015, 2000, 2017 and 2001.

Annual Vehicle Sales
Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows annual light vehicle sales since 1976.   Source: BEA.

Sales for 2018 are estimated based on the pace of sales during the first nine months.

The second graph shows light vehicle sales since the BEA started keeping data in 1967.

Vehicle SalesNote: dashed line is current estimated sales rate of 17.36 million SAAR.

My guess is vehicle sales will finish the year with sales lower than in 2017 (sales in late 2017 were boosted by buying following the hurricanes), and will probably be at or below 17 million for the year (the lowest since 2014).

A small decline in sales this year isn't a concern - I think sales will move mostly sideways at near record levels.

As I noted last year, this means the economic boost from increasing auto sales is over (from the bottom in 2009, auto sales boosted growth every year through 2016).