The official reports aren’t due until Friday, but May is already shaping up to be an exceptional month with three of the leading analysts, Jessica Caldwell of Edmunds.com, Jesse Toprak of TrueCar.com, and Jeff Schuster of J.D. Powers/LMC Automotive looking for sales volumes to jump 30-32 percent compared to May 2011 and up around 18 percent compared to April of this year.
Toyota sales are projected to nearly double compared to last year, when the full effects of the earthquake and tsunami were being felt by all of the Japanese manufacturers. Toyota is now at full steam and moving aggressively to recapture lost sales and market share.
Honda sales are forecast to have the next-largest improvement, up somewhere between 50 and 60 percent. Nissan, which was least affected by the disasters, is also expected to show the smallest improvement; Edmunds.com says 28.1 percent; TrueCar.com is looking for 37.0 percent.
Both Caldwell and Toprak predict Chrysler will report the largest year-over-year sales gain, partially due to increased incentive spending. TrueCar.com estimates Chrysler will spend an average of $3,104 per vehicle, the highest of any major automaker. In spite of the spending, Caldwell thinks Ford will post a larger improvement over April 2012, while Toprak sees both Ford and GM outperforming Chrysler in the same comparison.
Chrysler isn’t alone in boosting incentives: compared to April spending, Honda boosted incentives 50.8 percent; Toyota added 22.2 percent; Volkswagen put 20.7 percent more cash on the hood and Ford sweetened the pot with an 8.4 percent increase. Overall, TrueCar estimates overall incentive spending rose 4.0 percent compared to last month.
With the decline in gas prices and the coming of summer, sales of crossovers, SUVs and pickups are expected to improve. The most likely losers are smaller cars. Even in April, mid-size cars were a hotter segment than small cars, so it’s likely the trend will continue.
|EDMUNDS.COM MAY SALES FORECAST|
|TRUECAR.COM MAY SALES FORECAST|
All three analysts see a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) in the mid-14-million range for the month and estimate 14.5 million sales for 2012.
TrueCar.com also breaks down its forecast by brand. The hottest brands in terms of year-over-year percentage growth are predicted to be Fiat, up 161.8 percent, Chrysler, up 104.2 percent, and Toyota, up 96.8 percent. In the cellar are Mitsubishi and Volvo, both predicted to miss their May 2011 numbers by 18.1 percent.
|TrueCar.com Forecast May 2012 Sales by Brand|