Blame the weather since US light vehicle sales dropped to 1.18 million in February, according LMC Automotive, an automotive global forecasting consultancy. The -3% Year-over-Y decline in LMC’s view was caused by two fewer selling days this year, as well as abnormally cold weather and winter storms across many key markets. Any way you look at it, the selling-day adjusted sales volume was still down by -5.5% YoY. The annualized rate dropped to 15.7 million units, down from 16.6 mn units in January.
Compact and mid-size SUVs performed better than large pickups. They were the two most popular segments, which appears the long-term trend with mid-size SUVs gaining 0.9 percentage points of share from February 2020. Only Compact Premium SUVs grew more, up by 1.2 pp, likely from new product launches. Not surprisingly, mid-size Cars lost 2.5 pp of share from a year ago, more than any other segment. Here LMC hedges, “although consumers have been moving away from cars, lower fleet volume also hurt the segment significantly. While six segments sold more than 100,000 units last February, only four reached the threshold this year – Compact SUV, Mid-size SUV, Large Pickup and Small SUV. Combined, they accounted for 57% of total sales.”
“After two consecutive increases to the forecast since the start of 2021, the level of downside risk has dissipated and there continues to be strong upside opportunity given the outlook for GDP growth was increased to 5.9% in 2021 and the vaccination rollout remains on target. While the auto market is clearly not fully out of the woods, and additional interruptions to the recovery pace are still possible from chip and parts shortages depleting inventory, the worst does now appear to be in the rear-view mirror,” claimed Jeff Schuster, President, Americas Operations and Global Vehicle Forecasts, LMC Automotive.
AutoInformed is more skeptical. (AutoInformed: Whither US Vehicle Sales in 2021? Is 14 Million a Stretch?)