US auto sales to rise in August on increased vehicle supply, strong demand

FILE PHOTO: Lights illuminate the roadway as cars sit in traffic to depart New York City the day before the Thanksgiving holiday in New York

(Reuters) - New vehicle sales in the United States are expected to rise in August, helped by improved supply and strong demand for personal transport, a report from industry consultants showed on Thursday.

U.S. new vehicle sales, including retail and non-retail transactions, are estimated to reach 1,354,600 units in August, a 15.4% jump from a year earlier, according to the joint report by J.D. Power and GlobalData.

"Retailers continue to sell vehicles before they physically arrive at the dealership. However, with increased inventory levels, more shoppers are now able to purchase vehicles from dealer lots," Thomas King, president of the data and analytics division at J.D. Power, said in a statement.

Retail inventories could see a 48.4% jump in August over the year earlier. Inventory pile-up, however, might lead to a decline in dealers' profit, which also faces pressure from elevated interest rates.

Consumers are estimated to spend $47.8 billion on new vehicles, the highest on record for the month of August, and 10.5% higher than last year, the report said.

New-vehicle transaction prices, however, would likely see a 1.2% decline from the year earlier, as sales of smaller vehicle segments increased, which inherently have lower transaction prices.

Global sales for 2023 are expected to reach 86.8 million units compared with previous estimate of 86.4 million units, amid an ongoing improvement in supply chains, the report said.

"In September, the main focus will be on any potential work stoppages (at automakers) that could hinder production. A disruption in production could create more asymmetry in the market and potentially extend the overall tight supply situation currently in place," King added.

For 2024, global light-vehicles sales are expected at 90.2 million units.

(Reporting by Pratyush Thakur in Bengaluru; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar)