New-vehicle sales clocked in at 1,513,574 for June, a 2.6% decline year over year.
While the strength of the economy has withstood industry headwinds, including higher interest rates and rising vehicle costs, Edmunds analyst Jeremy Acevedo predicted that new-car sales will “settle into a slower sales pace as we head into the rest of 2019.”
The June SAAR came in at 17.3 million.
Through midyear, 8.5 million new cars have been sold, just shy of the 8.6 million units sold in the first half of 2015, according to Auto Finance News data. In 2015, new-car sales totaled 17.5 million units.
Edmunds analysts caution that 2019 sales numbers may be propped up by automakers falling into old habits of relying on fleet sales to clear out mounting inventory. In June, Edmunds estimated fleet transactions accounted for 20% of total sales.
Separately, Edmunds noted that interest rates hit a 2019-low in June – a “desperate” move to sell lingering 2018 models as 2020 models hit dealership showrooms in a few weeks, said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis. The annual percentage rate for new vehicles averaged 6% last month, down 10 basis points from May.
“No new-car dealer wants to have a pack of three different model-year vehicles hanging out together on the lot competing for attention,” Caldwell said. “And the longer these 2018 models sit there, the more expensive they get for dealers to move, so there’s certainly a sense of urgency.”