U.S. new-vehicle sales are expected to rise in May, thanks to an extra selling day and deals over the long Memorial Day weekend.
Forecasts from Cox Automotive, Edmunds and LMC Automotive/J.D. Power call for sales to rise about 3 percent, to around 1.56 million vehicles, from May 2017. It would be the industry's third increase in the first five months of 2018.
LMC/J.D. Power and Cox say that will result in a seasonally adjusted, annualized rate of sales of 16.6 million vehicles, while Edmunds forecasts a 16.7 million SAAR. Both figures are below April's rate of 17.2 million and the May 2017 SAAR of 16.8 million. The SAAR has topped 17 million units for eight straight months.
Automakers are scheduled to release May sales figures on Friday. There are 26 selling days this month, one more than a year ago.
"The summer selling season is off to a healthy start," Jeremy Acevedo, Edmunds manager of industry analysis, said in a statement. "Despite rising gas prices, shoppers are clearly demonstrating their confidence in the strength of the economy as they continue to seek out larger, more expensive vehicles."
The LMC/J.D. Power forecast shows the industry's average transaction price will rise $1,192, while incentives are virtually flat, at $3,665 per vehicle, compared with the same period a year ago. It estimates consumer spending on new vehicles at more than $41 billion in May, nearly $2.7 billion more than last year.
"The U.S. auto market's ability to shrug off the volatility surrounding trade and tariff talks is remarkable," Jeff Schuster, head of global vehicle forecasts at LMC Automotive, said in a statement. "Despite the risks, volume is holding and a calmness prevails. Expectations of a managed slowdown from the 2016 peak remain on target, but the industry's biggest challenge over the next 18 months will be the collective discipline to manage fleet volume and incentive spending."
LMC said it was raising its full-year forecast for light-vehicle sales to 17.1 million units from 17 million. Cox's full-year forecast remains at 16.7 million vehicles, although it says it could make an upward revision at the end of the second quarter. Automakers sold about 17.2 million light vehicles in 2017.
Cox expects Volkswagen Group of America to pace the industry with a 14.8 percent gain, and Ford Motor Co. and Nissan North America to be the only two automakers to post sales declines. Edmunds, meanwhile, expects General Motors to lead the way with a 13.2 percent increase, while sales at Ford, Nissan and Toyota Motor Sales USA are expected to fall.