Auto sales keep on keeping on. It looks like this month will be even better than last if predictions hold out. Sales are projected to come at about 1.1 million, which would mean 13.2 million cars and trucks sold at retail in the U.S. if the trend follows June's numbers.
That's 500,000 more than May full-year extrapolation. But premium vehicles are definitely not driving the trend. According to J.D. Power & Associates LMC forecasting division, high-end vehicles are going to be just 11.7% of retail sales this month. Last June, premium vehicles were almost 13% of total sales.
J.D.P. says the reason for slack premium sales in the top end is that there hasn't been much redesign activity for cars and trucks in the segment. Per the marketing firm, the model age of luxury vehicles sold in the second quarter was about 43 months, over three years (product cycles in the auto world is about three years). By contrast, the average time since redesign of non-premium cars is 34.5 months. But by the second quarter of next year, that will change, with luxury vehicle model age dropping to 33 months.
The firm says transaction prices are up along with sales. The transaction price of new vehicles in June may turn out to be $28,900, which would be the highest ever for June. And the average price for premium vehicles is $47,000, a 4% increase over the month last year.
LMC Automotive continues to hold the 2013 outlook for total light-vehicle sales -- including fleet -- at 15.4 million units, but has increased its forecast for retail light-vehicle sales to 12.6 million units from 12.5 million units, as retail sales growth expands.
Jeff Schuster, who heads up LMC Auto forecasting, said all signs are "go" for a strong first half of 2013. Said Schuster: "Looking forward, all the key fundamentals are in alignment to continue the current growth trend, with production capacity limitations being the only major visible risk."