| 12:07 PM EST

U.S. Car Sales Volume Stays Strong

Market shows “exceptional resilience” in spite of continuing COVID-19 concerns.
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Sales of light vehicles in the U.S. continue to show “exceptional resilience,” as October deliveries topped 1.3 million units for the third consecutive month, LMC Automotive reports.

Unit sales reached 1.35 million in October, up 1% year-on-year. LMC says a 6% gain in retail deliveries offset a 22% drop in fleet sales. An extra selling day also helped boost results.

Big seller: midsize Ford Explorer  (Image: Ford)

What It Means

Last month’s annualized sales rate topped 16 million vehicles for the second straight month. That’s well below last year’s 17 million total. But it’s impressive to see the sales pace reach this level in spite of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

Another bright spot: Fleet sales, which plunged 38% in September, showed the first glimmering of revival.

Midsize SUVs Rule

The biggest sales category in the light-vehicle market last month was midsize, non-luxury SUV/crossovers. That segment led for the first time ever, capturing 16% of the entire light-vehicle market, according to LMC.

“The contrast between last October and now could not be greater,” adds Augusto Amorim, senior manager of Americas vehicle sales forecasts. A year ago, model changeovers and protracted plant strikes at Genera Motors hurt sales.

Overall SUV deliveries in the U.S. last month grew 8% to conquer 53% of the total market. LMC says demand for relatively pricey SUVs and pickup trucks drove up the average selling price of a new vehicle to a record $36,000 last month.


Three fewer selling days this month will cause November sales to drop 15% year-on-year to 1.20 million units, LMC predicts. But it says volume may grow again in December, which will have three more selling days.

Full-year sales for 2020 are likely to come in at 14.47 million units, then rise to 15.60 million next year.

But Jeff Schuster, who heads LMC’s Americas operations and global vehicle forecasts, cautions that the resurgence in COVID-19 levels could make a recovery to pre-coronavirus levels “a bumpy one” between now and next spring.

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