DETROIT (Reuters) – While U.S. new-vehicle sales in June are expected to decline as much as 30%, research firms on Thursday maintained that retail demand has held up relatively well during the coronavirus outbreak and the question now is whether the industry can rebuild inventories fast enough as demand rebounds.
“The fact that retail sales – not fleet – are what kept the market propped up speaks volumes to the resilience of the American consumer,” Edmunds’ executive director of insights Jessica Caldwell said in a statement.
The shutdown of plants and auto dealers hit the U.S. auto sector hard in April and May, but assembly plants reopened starting May 18 and have since boosted production while sales have rebounded as states reopen economies.
TrueCar subsidiary ALG expects sales of new cars and trucks to drop 24%, with the month finishing with a annual sales rate of 13 million units, down from 17.2 million last year. Excluding fleet sales, retail deliveries will decline 15%, but rise 1.5% from May.
With inventories lower, availability of some vehicles, especially pickup trucks made by General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, could suffer, analysts said.
Tesla Inc’s build-to-order model means the electric carmaker will see a big decline in June sales, analysts said.
Edmunds expects June sales to drop 29% from last year but only 3.6% from May. It expects an annual sales rate of 12.8 million vehicles.