Auto Service World
News   October 1, 2020   by Allan Janssen

ScotiaBank, Cox, IHS revise light vehicle sales forecast for 2020


Analysts at ScotiaBank have adjusted their forecast for light vehicle sales in Canada.

In light of the impact of Covid-19, the research arm of the Canadian bank predicts light vehicle sales will hit 1.6 million units for 2020. That would be down substantially from 2019’s 1,914,357 units.

ScotiaBank acknowledges new federal policies to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on working Canadians could bring more new car sales, as could a markedly improved economic recovery profile. It is taking a more conservative view for the moment because of “considerable downside risks on the horizon, particularly south of the border.”

The forecast, published in a Sept. 1 report covering August light vehicle sales in Canada and the U.S. (Auto News Flash), also offered a forecast for the U.S. market in 2020.

“Our forecast for U.S. auto sales is 14 million units, on the basis of early rebound activity.” It said substantial downside risks remain, related to the course of the pandemic, the ability of Congress to pass additional stimulus, and election uncertainty.

In 2019, the U.S. saw sales of 16,952,900 light vehicles. It’s record high was 2016 with 17,464,800 light vehicles sold.

Cox Automotive has upgraded its 2020 sales outlook to 13.9 million, up from earlier forecasts of 12.9 million in July and 12 million in April — but of course down sharply from 17.1 million in 2019, because of the effects of the coronavirus.

Cox Automotive chief economist Jonathan Smoke says U.S. auto sales are performing better than expected this year, in large part because business shutdowns aimed at arresting the spread of the coronavirus didn’t last as long as Cox originally feared.

“We see improvement,” says Jonathan Smoke, Cox Automotive chief economist, in a Sept. 28 webinar based on sales results and other economic indicators through most of the third quarter.

IHS Markit says the outlook for the last quarter of the year remains blurred by political (election, stimulus policies) and economic uncertainty,  but the sequential rise in auto demand levels from April reflects that consumers that are willing, ready, and able to enter a new car purchase are doing so. IHS Markit forecasts full-year sales of about 14 million units in 2020. This is much stronger than earlier estimates, but still a nearly 18% y/y drop from 2019.