The U.S. auto market may heave a sigh of relief when December ends in two weeks, but it definitely will not have been the cruelest month. The month is actually looking good, or at least better, for the auto business than any this year, if the seers at Edmunds.com are on the mark.
The Los Angeles-based online consumer sales and shopping site and analysis firm predicts automakers will sell 1,010,000 units in the U.S., a 13.3% increase from the month last year and a 35.7% increase from last month.
If the firm is right, the year will finish up at around 10 million units -- a 21.3% drop from last year, which itself was a big drop from the year before.
Jessica Caldwell, director of industry analysis for Edmunds.com, says Subaru is one of the automakers likely to finish the year comparatively strong, with market share above 2% and perhaps passing Volkswagen in annual U.S. sales. But it is also the first year since the '60s in which Chrysler won't sell a million vehicles, she points out.
Korean brand Hyundai is likely to continue to see big sales growth, per Edmunds, which sees the company selling 63,000 units in December 2009 -- up 63.7% from the month last year -- and giving it 6.3% share of the U.S. market this month, which would be a two-point increase from last year.
The firm estimates there will be a slight improvement in market share for Chrysler, Ford and General Motors from 45.1% last month to 45.8% in December. But domestics have lost nearly 5 percentage points from last December, when domestics had 50.3% share of the U.S. auto market.
The firm says GM is likely to see the most volume of any automaker in the U.S., but the big winner in terms of growing share is Ford, which Edmunds predicts will sell 174,000 units -- up 25.1% versus the month last year and 42.5% from last month. If that happens, Ford will have a market share of 17.2% -- up from 15.6% in December 2008, and up from 16.4% last month.
General Motors will sell 206,000 units this month, per Edmunds, down 6.3% versus last year and up 37% from last month. That would give GM 20.4% of the U.S. new-vehicle market, down from 24.7% last year and up from 20.2% in November this year.
Toyota may come out strong this month, if Edmunds.com is correct that the automaker will sell 185,000 units. If so, Toyota's sales volume will be up 30.2% and 38.2% versus last year and last month, respectively -- keeping Toyota ahead of Ford in market share with 18.3% share, up from 15.9% last year and 18% last month.
Chrysler will sell 82,000 units in December 2009 -- down 7.8% versus the month last year and up 30.8% percent from November 2009, per the firm. But if so, market share will drop to 8.2% from last month's 8.5% and last year's 10%.
Edmunds predicts Honda will sell 100,000 units in December 2009, up 16% from last year and 35% from last month. Nissan is looking at around 70,000 units in December, up 12.9% and 26% from last year and last month respectively.