A WardsAuto forecast calls for U.S. automakers to deliver 1.474 million light vehicles this month.

The forecasted daily sales rate  of 56,706 over 26 days represents a 6.7% improvement from like-2014 (also 26 days) and would mark the industry’s best April, on a daily basis, since 2002, as well as the highest April sales volume since 2000.

The forecast also represents an 8% DSR decline from March (25 days) compared with the 7-year average 7% decline and last year’s 10% month-to-month drop.

If deliveries meet or exceed WardsAuto’s forecast, April will be the 14th consecutive month to outpace prior-year comparisons.

The report puts the seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales for the month at 16.8 million units, down from March’s 17.1 million SAAR, but some 800,000 units above year-ago and slightly ahead of the 16.8 million first-quarter SAAR.

The forecast reflects reports strong retail activity in the beginning of the month, with a smaller share of sales attributable to fleet orders for a number of OEMs, as well as a seasonal month-to-month downturn for most Asian automakers.

Output in March kept pace with sales, maintaining inventory at 3.6 million units, with few noticeable holes in any given segment. WardsAuto expects stocks to remain at that level at least another month, leaving the industry at a 63 days’ supply at the end of April, compared with March’s 58 days and year-ago’s 69.

WardsAuto is forecasting General Motors to deliver nearly 268,000 light vehicles this month, a 5.4% improvement from year-ago. The market’s No.1 seller is expected to grab an 18.2% share up two points from March but slightly below year-ago.

Ford’s DSR is forecast to rise 6.3% from year-ago, as the automaker’s new F-Series pickups gain steam in the retail sector and put the automaker in the No.2 spot overall for the second consecutive month, with a 15% share.

Toyota daily sales are expected to rise 7.3% from year-ago to 214,000 units, accounting for 14.5% of LV deliveries. FCA’s projected 12.7% share is directly in line with its March performance and equates to 188,000 units, the company’s best April since 2007.

The forecast calls for Nissan’s DSR to rise 9% from its year-ago rate, while claiming a 7.7% share of the market – compared with its end-of-fiscal-year 9.4% share recorded last month. Hyundai also is expected to see a month-to-month decline in share, with forecast sales of 121,000 equating to an 8.2% penetration of the market, compared with 8.5% last month.
Honda is the exception among the largest Asian automakers with an expected month-to-month 2.5% increase in daily sales from March, equating to a 9.1% share. At forecast levels, Honda would outsell both Nissan and Hyundai Group for the first time since December.

Projected April LV sales would bring first-quarter deliveries to 5.4 million units, a 5.9% gain over same-period 2014. WardsAuto currently is forecasting 16.8 million LV deliveries for calendar 2015.

jsousanis@wardsauto.com