US November sales moderately upward image

U.S. new car sales are expected to continue their upward trend for November, though preliminary figures suggest some makers could slide into the negative column, as the rate of the industry’s recovery seems to be slowing.

New vehicle sales, on the whole are expected to be up about 4% for November, according to data crunched by J.D. Power and Associates and LMC Automotive.

“Consumer demand for new vehicles remains strong,” said John Humphrey, senior vice president of the global automotive practice at J.D. Power. But “we expect some makers will be down for the month,” cautioned John Mendel, the top U.S. executive at Honda Motor Co., during a media conference call. Mendel based his concerns on preliminary numbers shared by a number of major automakers.

Total light vehicle sales in 2013 are expected to reach 15.6 million units and retail light-vehicle sales should total 12.8 million units, added Jeff Schuster of LMC automotive, who also predicted another increase in sales for 2014.

“Improvements in the economy and consumer confidence in 2014 will drive stable growth to 16.1 million units for total light-vehicle sales and 13.2 million units for retail light vehicles.” Schuster said.

There has been growing concern about where the automotive market is heading. Sales took their first dip in three years during September – though that downturn was largely blamed on a fluke in the industry’s data tracking calendar. Volumes rebounded in October, and most analysts are upbeat about the months ahead.

A new, upbeat economic forecast from economists at the University of Michigan suggests the nation’s core inflation rate will remain below 2% during the next two years, while oil prices will hold firm around $95 per barrel through 2015, and light-vehicle sales will steadily rise from 15.5 million units range this year to 16 million in 2014 and 16.3 million in 2015.