March Sales Are Up, But Inventories Reach Highest Level Since 2004

Despite warning signs of a market slowdown, Edmunds analysts anticipate a slight sales bump in March and a flat first quarter

Santa Monica, CA March 29, 2017 — Edmunds, the leading car shopping and information platform, forecasts that 1,609,846 new cars and trucks will be sold in the U.S. in March, for an estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 17.2 million.


This reflects a 21% increase in sales from February 2017, and a 2% increase from March 2016. Edmunds experts also forecast that auto sales in the first quarter of 2017 will total 4,076,463, which is essentially flat compared to Q1 of 2016, when 4,083,747 vehicles were sold.

“If you only look at the sales numbers, it could be tempting to say that the industry is just as strong as it was a year ago,” said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds executive director of industry analysis. “But there are several areas of concern this year lurking just below the surface. Inventories have reached levels not seen in more than a decade, and incentives are rising. We’re also seeing an increase in loan duration and indications of an increase in subprime lending, both of which demonstrate sales aren’t coming as easily as they used to.”

SALES VOLUME FORECAST, BY MANUFACTURER

Sales Volume March 2017 Forecast March 2016 February 2017 Change from March 2016 Change from February 2017
GM 276,294 252,128 237,388 9.6% 16.4%
Ford 232,418 253,064 207,464 -8.2% 12.0%
Toyota 222,541 219,842 174,339 1.2% 27.6%
Fiat Chrysler 204,805 199,467 168,326 2.7% 21.7%
Nissan 167,962 163,559 135,740 2.7% 23.7%
Honda 142,100 138,221 121,686 2.8% 16.8%
Hyundai/Kia 129,820 133,589 95,693 -2.8% 35.7%
VW/Audi 47,251 45,306 38,886 4.3% 21.5%
Industry 1,609,846 1,577,507 1,328,391 2.1% 21.2%

*NOTE: March 2017 had 27 selling days, March 2016 had 27 and February 2016 had 24.

Edmunds estimates that retail SAAR will come in at 13.1 million vehicles in March 2017, with fleet transactions accounting for 23.7% of total sales. An estimated 3.6 million used vehicles will be sold in March 2017, for a SAAR of 38.2 million (compared to 3.4 million—or a SAAR of 38.2 million—in February).

MARKET SHARE FORECAST, BY MANUFACTURER

Market Share March 2017 Forecast March 2016 February 2017 Change from March 2016 Change from February 2017
GM 17.2% 16.0% 17.9% 1.2% -0.7%
Ford 14.4% 16.0% 15.6% -1.6% -1.2%
Toyota 13.8% 13.9% 13.1% -0.1% 0.7%
Fiat Chrysler 12.7% 12.6% 12.7% 0.1% 0.1%
Nissan 10.4% 10.4% 10.2% 0.1% 0.2%
Honda 8.8% 8.8% 9.2% 0.1% -0.3%
Hyundai/Kia 8.1% 8.5% 7.2% -0.4% 0.9%
VW/Audi 2.9% 2.9% 2.9% 0.1% 0.0%

More insight into recent auto industry trends can be found in the Edmunds Industry Center at www.edmunds.com/industry-center/.

About Edmunds

Edmunds is the leading car information and shopping platform, helping millions of visitors each month find their perfect car. With products like Edmunds Your Price, Your Lease and Used+, shoppers can buy smarter with instant, upfront prices for cars and trucks currently for sale at more than 13,000 dealer franchises across the U.S. The company is regarded as one of America’s best workplaces by Fortune and Great Places to Work. Edmunds is based in Santa Monica, California, and has a satellite office in downtown Detroit, Michigan.

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