We’ve only got reports from three major US automakers and that equates to 41% of the industry reported but with those figures December looks to have been a strong month for US auto sales. With Nissan, GM, and Ford reported, we’re tracking a sales pace north of 18.9mm on a seasonally adjusted, annual rate basis. That sales pace is not likely to be matched by every other reporting company, but as things stand currently the industry is on pace to exceed the November, 2015 peak sales rate of 18.13mm SAAR. As shown at right, all three reporting companies saw higher sales on a YoY basis which does not adjust for seasonality or trading days. Analysts had been expecting both Nissan and Ford to record NSA YoY declines. The current 18.9mm SAAR pace we’re tracking is nearly 1.2mm SAAR better than analyst expectations. As usual, we’ll continue to update both the table at right and charts below throughout the day as more companies report.
Update 1 10:52 AM: With 70% of the market reported across six manufacturers (including the four largest: Toyota, GM, Ford, and Fiat-Chrysler) December auto sales are still tracking a healthy beat versus estimated sales of 17.7mm SAAR and 17.75mm SAAR last month. However, they’re much at the current pace we’re tracking than the booming 19mm sales pace suggested by the early reports from Nissan and GM. One huge winner on the day that wouldn’t have been easy predict earlier this year: Volkswagen. Sales are up over 20% YoY as the company recovers from its emissions scandal.
Update 2 11:52 AM: We’ve seen a few more small manufacturers report since our last updated and with a bit more than 73% of them market reported we’re now up to 18.23mm SAAR on our tracker. Strong gains from Audi YoY pushed sales there up by over 13% from a year ago while declines for Mazda were smaller than estimated.
Update 3 1:43 PM: Since our last update we’ve gotten reports from Honda, Porsche, Mitsubishi, BMW, Kia and Subaru, representing another 20% of the total US auto market. We’ve now got reports from over 93% of the market with only Mercedes and Hyundai outstanding. Subaru continued to gain market share with an impressive year-over-year double-digit sales improvement. Honda also delivered a strong report. On net, there’s been a little improvement in the tracker since the last update and auto sales look set to reach 18.23mm per our math. As a reminder, that’s better than the 18.13mm SAAR recorded in November of last year. That month is the current high water mark for the current expansion. While we won’t see the explosion higher in sales that we were tracking after strong Nissan and GM reports, December looks to be a solid month and a new expansion high nonetheless.
Final Update 3:23 PM: As shown below, with 99% of the market reported, auto sales made a new expansion high in the month of December. As indicated in the table above right, Wards Auto has a slightly higher estimate. Either way, however, the previous 18.13mm highwater mark from 13 months ago has now fallen. That’s significantly stronger than the 17.7mm SAAR estimated by economists entering reporting today.