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Forecast for U.S. automotive sales for April spike to record levels

New-vehicle retail sales for April 2021 are expected to be the highest ever recorded for the month of April with a 110.6 percent increase compared with April 2020

Troy, Mich.—New-vehicle retail sales for April 2021 are expected to be the highest ever recorded for the month of April, according to a joint forecast from J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.

Retail sales for new vehicles are projected to reach 1,325,500 units, a 110.6 percent increase compared with April 2020, and a 20.8 percent increase compared with April 2019, when adjusted for selling days. April 2021 contains the same number of selling days as April 2020 and one more selling day than April 2019.

Comparing the same sales volume without adjusting for the number of selling days translates to a year-over-year increase of 110.6 percent from 2020 and a 25.6 percent increase from 2019.

The Total Sales Forecast

Total new-vehicle sales for April 2021, including retail and non-retail transactions, are projected to reach 1,479,800 units, a 107.1 percent increase from April 2020 and a 7.8 percent increase from April 2019 when adjusted for selling days.

Reporting the same numbers without controlling for the number of selling days translates to a 107.1 percent increase from April 2020 and a 12.1 percent increase from April 2019.

The seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) for total new-vehicle sales is expected to be 18.1 million units, up 9.4 million units from 2020 and up 1.7 million units from 2019.

Sales & SAAR Comparison
U.S. New VehicleApril 20211March 2021April 20193
Retail Sales1,325,500 units1,380,697 units1,055,077 units
 (+110.6% higher than April of 2020;  
 +20.8% higher than April 2019)2  
Total Sales1,479,800 units1,605,520 units1,319,894 units
 (+107.1% higher than April 2020;  
 +7.8% higher than April 2019)2  
Retail SAAR16.7 million units15.5 million units13.5 million units
Total SAAR18.1 million units18.0 million units16.4 million units
1 Figures cited for April 2021 are forecasted based on the first 21 selling days of the month.
2 April 2021 has 26 selling days, the same as April 2020 and one more day than April 2019.
3 April 2019 is displayed to avoid April 2020 pandemic-influenced comparisons.

The Details

  • The average new-vehicle retail transaction price in April is expected to reach a monthly record $37,572. The previous high for any month, $37,966, was set in December 2020.
  • Average incentive spending per unit in April is expected to fall to $3,191, down from $4,953 in April 2020 and $3,573 in April 2019. Spending as a percentage of the average MSRP is expected to fall to 7.5 percent, down 4.2 percentage points from April 2020 and down 1.5 percentage points from April 2019.
  • Average incentive spending per unit on trucks and SUVs combined in April is expected to be $3,173, down $1,989 from a year ago and down $445 from 2019, while the average spending on cars is expected to be $3,219, down $1,049 from a year ago and down $247 from 2019.
  • Consumers are on pace to spend $49.8 billion on new vehicles, the highest ever for the month of April, and up $27.7 billion from April 2020 and up $14.2 billion from April 2019.
  • Truck/SUVs are on pace to account for 76.1 percent of new-vehicle retail sales in April.
  • Fleet sales are expected to total 154,400 units in April, up 81 percent from April 2020 and down 44 percent from April 2019 on a selling day adjusted basis. Fleet volume is expected to account for 10 percent of total light-vehicle sales, down from 12 percent a year ago.

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