Brand new Subarus sit in an Auto Warehouse Co. storage lot in Richmond, Calif. last year. This year, … [+] dealers and customers are lining up for new cars.
U.S. auto sales are still on the increase for the year, but the rate of growth is expected to slow in June 2021, because of the continuing shortage of new-car inventory, largely due to the shortage of computer chips used in today’s cars to manage increasingly complex electronics.
Thomas King, president of the data and analytics division at J.D. Power, said in the forecast, “the effect of fewer vehicles in inventory at dealerships is finally starting to have a material effect on aggregate industry sales volumes.”
For consumers, that means shoppers are more likely to have a hard time finding exactly what they want, and more likely to pay top dollar for what they do find, the forecast said.
Automakers in the U.S. market are expected to report sales statistics for June, for the second quarter, and for the first half of 2021 on Thursday, July 1, according to Autodata.
June auto sales are expected to be around 1.3 million new cars and trucks combined, according to a joint forecast from J.D. Power and LMC Automotive. The forecast is based on sales data from a nationwide sample of dealerships through the first two-thirds of the month.
That would be a big increase vs. June 2020 — an increase of 19.5% — but that’s largely because a year ago, auto manufacturing had only just begun recovering from factory and dealership shutdowns related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Compared with June 2019, U.S. auto sales in June 2021 would be down 8.3%. That’s not as serious as it sounds, because fleet sales account for most of the decrease, according to LMC and J.D. Power.
Counting retail sales to individual consumers only, auto sales in June 2021 are expected to be about 1.1 million. Compared with June 2019, that would be roughly flat — an increase of 0.3%, to be precise.
Year to date, J.D. Power and LMC expect U.S. auto sales sales in the first half of 2021 of around 8.4 million units.
That would be a whopping 32% increase from the first half of 2020, but again, that’s largely a function of how low auto sales fell a year ago. To put it in context, the forecast of 8.4 million for the first half of 2021 would be an increase of just 0.7%, vs. the first half of 2019.