Today's the day that manufacturers report their May auto sales. I stick by the little-read prediction that U.S. vehicle sales have hit a bottom: U.S. light vehicle sales appear to have bottomed. I'm not saying that sales are going to bounce back quickly, they won't. Or that we will return to the days of 17 million vehicles in the U.S. any time soon, we won't. What I am saying is that as GM's vice president for sales Mark LeNeve said in last month's conference call with analysts:
"It's kind of like the anchor bouncing a long on the bottom of the lake. It has found bottom and it's tripping along a little bit. I think we have found the bottom in aggregate."
For now I am very comfortable calling 9.5 to 10 million units on an annual basis the bottom for U.S. auto sales.
As far as May goes, so far I have seen that Ford's sales are down 24% year-over-year, but are actually up 20% month-over-month. The fact that sales improved from April to May is not terribly surprising, they normally do, but the size of the increase is encouraging.
GM just announced its sales numbers a few minutes ago. Obviously at down 29% y-o-y they were bad, but not nearly as bad as many analysts had expected
I'll report back later with the details of what sales were like last month. For now, I have this interesting tidbit from the auto industry.
GM has reached an agreement to sell Hummer. The purchaser is rumored to be a Chinese company called Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co. This is interesting for two reasons. The main one is that this is a Chinese company. No Chinese-owned companies currently sell vehicles in the U.S. This is also interesting because Sichuan apparently doesn't even make cars in China, it makes construction equipment and other kinds of machinery.
Under the terms of the sale agreement, General Motors will continue to manufacture the current Hummer models, H2 and H3 at its Shreveport plant through at least 2010.