Counting Cars

May 2014 Sales Thread (FINAL): SAAR Soars to 87-Month High

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U.S. autmomakers sold 1.6 million light vehicles in May lifting the SAAR to nearly 16.7 million.

May 2014 Light Vehicle Sales Volume:
WardsAuto forecast LV Sales:         1.55 million units
Actual May LV Sales:                       1.60 million units

3.5% differential

May 2014 Light Vehicle SAAR:
WardsAuto forecast LV SAAR: 16.14 million
Current Estimated LV SAAR:      16.70 million

WardsAuto tracks light vehicle (LV) sales throughout each sales reporting day. Monthly year-over-year change represents the change in daily sales rate (DSR). May had 27 selling days this year and 26 in 2013. The extra day means DSR % change will be lower than reported % change in sales volumes this month.  

FINAL UPDATE (3:00 PM): Automakers sold 1,600,4444 light vehicles in May - with daily sales reaching a seven-year high dating back to May 2007.

May's extended post-Memorial Day week of sales (stretching out to June 2) set off a buying spree, as deliveries rocketed above WardsAuto and consensus forecasts. Several automakers reported record sales, while others reported new post-recession benchmarks, putting the industry SAAR in position to reach an 87-month high, dating back to February 2007.

May's deliveries represent a 7.1% year-over-year gain in daily sales, and bring the year-to-date total for the first five months of 2014 to 6.7 million units, a 4.8% improvement over like-2013.

Among the day's biggest winners, Toyota reported a 12.6% gain in DSR, giving the Japanese automaker a 15.2% share of the market, compared with a 14.5% year-ago share; Nissan earned an extra share point, grabbing 8.5% of the market as its sales climbed 14.4%; and Fiat-Chrysler sales were up 12.7% on a daily basis, claiming a 12.1% share, compared to 11.5% a year-ago.

Ford was the only Top 7 automaker to post a year-to-year decline, with daily sales of LVs falling 1.3%.

Volkswagen brand was the biggest underachiever among all volume automakers, with a DSR decline of 18.5%, resulting in 2% market share for the month compared with a year-ago share of 2.6%. Sister-automaker Audi posted a 20.9% gain on 16,601 deliveries, good for a 1% take.

2:50 PM: REVISION TO DAIMLER: Including Sprinter, Smart and Mitsu-Fuso brands, Daimler sales were up 4% for the month, to 29,592.

2:00 PM: KIa brand's 10.6% DSR gain gave Hyundai Group a combined 4.5% year/year gain in daily sales.

1:15 PM: Honda joined the list of companies that outperformed expecations in May, delivering nearly 153K cars and light trucks. Still, the company's 5% DSR growth was the smallest yr/yr gain among all Japanese automakers, and fell below the rest of the industry average.

Volkswagen brand saw daily sales fall 18.5%, the worst year-over-year performance of any major automaker, as the automaker sold 32,163 vehicles in May compared with 38,013 during the same-month last year.

NOON: Detroit 3 LV daily sales were up 5.9% over same-month year-ago. GM and Chrysler showed sizable yr/yr gains, while Ford's 1.3% decline tempered the group's overall performance. Nonethe less, the D3's 725,506 May light-vehicle deliveries equated to the group's highest DSR since August 2008.

11:45 AM General Motors sales rose 8.4% on a daily basis, resulting in the company's highest DSR since September 2008 (the final month before the financial crisis that shook the industry). GM sold 284,694 LVs in May.

Ford sold 247,114, a 1.3% decline in daily sales. While not a terrible result - the company's lower sales to fleets explains the difference - it come in stark contrast to the rest of the industry's reporting companies so far. The other six reporting companies, includiing Chrysler GM, Toyota, Nissan and Hyundai - reported a collective 10.5% increase over year-ago.

10:55 AM: Audi's 20.9% yr/yr DSR gain, directly in line with WardsAuto expecations, equates to 16,601 deliveries in May, and was the company's second best month behind December 2013.

10:40 AM: Toyota demolished expectation in May, lifting the projected SAAR nearly 300K, for the time being, as the company reported its highest daily sales rate since May 2008, and its seventh-largest DSR ever. The automaker's 243,236 deliveries represented a 12.6% year-over-year increase.

Hyundai, meanwhile reported (via Twitter) record May volume of 70,907 units. However, the total actually reflects a 0.1% decrease in DSR compared with same-month 2014.

Nissan's record May (see below), on the other hand, was the result of a 14.4% increase in DSR.

10:00 AM: Chrysler reports 194,421 total deliveries in May, (including some heavy duty vehicles), of which WardsAuto is currently estimating roughly 193,000 were light duty - representing a 12.3% improvement over year-ago DSR. Chrysler's May tally was its highest since May 2007, and its second highest daily sales rate since December 2007 (behind March 2014).

Nissan had a record May , delivering 135,934 LVs, achieving its third-best DSR ever, behind March 2014 and March 2013.

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John Sousanis

John Sousanis oversees WardsAuto data operations as Director of Information Content, and is Ward’sAuto sales analyst. Follow John on Twitter @CountingCars.  

Haig Stoddard

Haig Stoddard is a veteran automotive industry analyst. His current focus is North America production and longterm sales forecasting.
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