Renewed economic confidence followed the election of republican nominee Donald Trump and Americans snapped up new vehicles at a rapid pace in November, giving the U.S. auto industry a chance of breaking its all-time record for full-year sales.
The Automotive MMI was up, too, jumping 8%.
In November, U.S. auto sales rose 3.7% compared with a year ago, according to Autodata Corp. On an annualized basis, that equaled a rate of 17.87 million units. November sales growth projections had ranged from 2.7% at Edmunds.com to 4.2% at Kelley Blue Book. Total sales for November were 1.38 million, that shattered a record for the month that was set in November 2001.
The month’s annual sales rate, adjusted for two extra selling days this November, was 17.9 million vehicles, more than the 17.7 million average estimate.
A contributing factor to the solid month was the Thanksgiving weekend and Black Friday sales, which are having an increasing effect on the month’s output. With one month to go, the auto industry has a decent chance to match or exceed its 2015 full-year record of 17.47 million vehicles sold.
Automotive sales and metals prices are both benefiting from bullish sentiment among buyers and investors. Steel companies stock prices have increased after Trump’s election just as aluminum and copper prices in the bullish metals markets.
Another factor in new car sales is the enduring low prices for both oil and gasoline, which might change soon now that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers such as Russia have finally agreed to a production freeze.
Rising oil prices, however, might not be the detriment to auto sales that they have in the past. Hybrid vehicles and simply more efficient fuel consumption have blunted the impact of gasoline prices on new car sales. One of the reasons that the gas tax has become such a poor funding mechanism for the federal Highway Trust Fund is that motorists simply have to buy less gas for today’s efficient, newer vehicles.