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Light Vehicle Sales Up in November

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Nov. 25, 2015—Total and retail new light vehicle sales in November are expected to increase 7 percent on a selling-day-adjusted basis, according to a monthly sales forecast developed jointly by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.

Despite a couple of calendar curveballs—November has only four selling weekends for the first time since 2012 and has the fewest selling days (23) of any month since September 2013—the industry continues to show strength, with retail light vehicle sales approaching 1.1 million units and total light vehicle sales nearing 1.3 million units this month.

Retail light vehicle sales in November 2015 are projected to hit 1,078,200 units, down from 1,094,858 in November 2014. The SAAR for retail sales in November 2015 is expected to reach 14.2 million units, up from a selling rate of 13.7 million units a year ago and the highest for the month since November 2003 (14.2 million units).

"The strength of the industry continues to be observed through strong sales volume and high transaction prices," said John Humphrey, senior vice president of the global automotive practice at J.D. Power. "So far in the month, the average transaction price of $31,498 is the highest level ever for any November and the second highest for any month." The record high of $31,519 was set in December 2014.

To manage these higher transaction prices, customers are increasingly opting for leases and long-term loans with term lengths of 72 months and longer. The industry is on track to set new records for both types of sales for the full year 2015. On a calendar year-to-date basis through the first two weeks of November, lease penetration has reached 27.7 percent, which is an increase of 2 percentage points from the full year 2014. Long-term loan penetration has increased 2.2 percentage points to 34.4 percent over the same time period.

"The good news for the auto industry is that sales growth, both in terms of total units and price-per-vehicle, is continuing to show strength as we turn the corner to 2016, but there are some warning signs in this data," said  Humphrey. "Lease and long-term loan penetration are at all-time highs and could increase even more as a way to offset higher interest rates in the months to come."

Total light vehicle sales are expected to reach 1,279,500 in November 2015, a 7 percent increase on a selling-day adjusted basis compared with November 2014. The SAAR for total sales in November is projected at 17.7 million units, a 600,000-unit increase from a year ago.

Fleet volume is projected at 201,200 units, a 6.9 percent increase on a selling-day adjusted basis from November 2014. Fleet sales are expected to account for 15.7 percent of total sales in November 2015, the same level as November 2014, and are expected to end the year at 18.1 percent of total sales.

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