Interest rate hikes expected to depress auto sales

J.D. Power and LMC Automotive project total new-vehicle sales in September will reach 1,120,279 units, up 12 percent from a year ago.

“While holiday promotions were nearly nonexistent [this month], modest improvements in vehicle production allowed manufacturers to tap pent-up consumer demand,” J.D. Power data and analytics division chief Thomas King said in a statement.

Last spring, the new-vehicle market began suffering from a significant lack of inventory. Stockpiles have slowly improved but remain well below pre-pandemic levels.

Tight supplies of new cars and light trucks mean sky-high vehicle transaction prices are here to stay.

King expects the average transaction price to reach $45,622, a record for September, and the fourth highest of any month on record.

S&P Global Mobility warns of continued pressure on output.

Joe Langley, the firm’s associate director of U.S. production analysis, said semiconductor shortages coupled with other supply chain and logistics issues will keep U.S. inventory at “below-average levels — under 2 million units or a 40 days’ supply — well into 2023.”

But Cox analysts see the beginnings of a supply recovery.

The firm said new-vehicle inventory jumped 41 percent — or nearly 350,000 vehicles — from last year’s record low. Days’ supply, meanwhile, is up about 50 percent over the period.

Even so, Chesbrough tempers expectations about a full-scale recovery.

“We’re in a long-term trajectory [where] … inventories are going to slowly rebuild,” he said. “But no one is expecting a surge of vehicles being shipped around the country … and getting us back to a 60- or 90-day supply.”

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