While California will be the exception, U.S. new car sales will be considerably slower this quarter than than has been the recent pattern, Kelley Blue Book has reported. In California, unusually high gasoline costs are spurring better-than-normal sales of electric and hybrid vehicles.

Here’s the announcement:

New-Car Sales Cool To 14.7 Million SAAR With Q4 Slowdown; 1,130,000 Units Expected In October


Record Fuel Prices Boost Compact Car Sales; Volkswagen Expected to Continue Year-Over-Year Market Share Lead

IRVINE, Calif., Oct. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Through the first three weeks in October, the seasonal Q4 slowdown in new-car sales clearly is in full effect, according to Kelley Blue Book, www.kbb.com, the leading provider of new car and used car information.  Kelley Blue Book expects new-vehicle sales to drop to 14.7 million seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) in October, after hitting 14.9 million last month.  Analysts expect declines in both fleet and retail sales.

“Fleet sales likely will decline 20,000 to 25,000 units overall, while retail sales will drive the remaining decline,” said Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst of automotive insights for Kelley Blue Book.  “Retail sales typically slow in October following September’s model-year clearance sales, featuring heavy discounts on soon-to-be replaced vehicles.”

Although sales have dropped month-over-month, they remain high compared to this time last year.  Sales will improve 10.7 percent versus October 2011, led by strong sales of fuel-efficient compact cars.  Kelley Blue Book expects compact cars such as the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and Ford Focus to increase nearly 44 percent in October, coinciding with the highest fuel prices on record for this time of year.

“Sales in California will be especially strong with gas prices currently more than $0.70 per gallon above the national average,” said Gutierrez.  “This will trigger incremental sales growth in the electric and hybrid categories as well.  However, due to their high cost of entry, Kelley Blue Book doesn’t anticipate sales volume for these segments to increase beyond the 2 percent market share consistently held during the past several years.”

Kelley Blue Book:  Compact Car Sales to Surge with High Fuel Prices
Sales Volume Market Share
Segment Oct-12 Oct-11 YOY% Oct-12 Oct-11 YOY
Mid-Size Car 178,540 165,689 7.8% 15.8% 16.2% -0.4%
Compact Car 178,540 123,621 44.4% 15.8% 12.1% 3.7%
Compact Crossover 129,950 111,457 16.6% 11.5% 10.9% 0.6%
Full-Size Pickup Truck 135,600 134,035 1.2% 12.0% 13.1% -1.1%
Subcompact Car 46,330 43,383 6.8% 4.1% 4.2% -0.1%
Total 1,130,000 1,021,185 10.7%
*Includes segments not shown

Volkswagen to Lead Year-Over-Year Sales Gains
Once again, Volkswagen will lead industry gains in October, thanks to strong sales of the redesigned Jetta and Passat.

“A lower point of entry and competitive lease offers for these models have helped  increase sales among mainstream consumers, while those seeking fuel efficiency and a sporty drive can look to Volkswagen’s TDI offerings,” said Gutierrez.  “High fuel prices and Volkswagen’s multiple diesel offerings have helped the brand continue to capture U.S. market share.”

Toyota also benefits from high fuel prices, and Kelley Blue Book expects the brand to improve 26.4 percent this month.  Toyota has seen strong demand for the Prius, Corolla, Yaris and other fuel-sipping options, allowing it to continue to recapture market share.  All manufacturers are expected to show solid gains compared to last year, despite month-over-month industry declines.

Kelley Blue Book: Volkswagen Will Lead the Industry to a 10.7 Percent YOY Jump
Sales Volume Market Share
Manufacturer Oct-12 Oct-11 YOY% Oct-12 Oct-11 YOY
General Motors 203,400 186,895 8.8% 18.0% 18.3% -0.3%
Ford Motor Company 172,890 167,502 3.2% 15.3% 16.4% -1.1%
Toyota Motor Company 169,500 134,046 26.4% 15.0% 13.1% 1.9%
Chrysler Group 133,340 114,512 16.4% 11.8% 11.2% 0.6%
American Honda 115,000 98,333 16.9% 10.2% 9.6% 0.0%
Hyundai-Kia 100,000 90,092 11.0% 8.8% 8.8% 0.0%
Nissan North America 91,000 82,346 10.5% 8.1% 8.1% 0.0%
Volkswagen 49,720 38,253 30.0% 4.4% 3.7% 0.7%
Total 1,130,000 1,021,185 10.7%
*Includes brands not shown

For more information and news from Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com, visit www.kbb.com/media/, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kelleybluebook (or @kelleybluebook), like our page on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/kbb, and get updates on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/+kbb/.

About Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com)
Founded in 1926, Kelley Blue Book, The Trusted Resource®, is the only vehicle valuation and information source trusted and relied upon by both consumers and the industry.  Each week the company provides the most market-reflective values in the industry on its top-rated website www.kbb.com, including its famous Blue Book® Trade-In and Suggested Retail Values and Fair Purchase Price, which reports what others are paying for new cars this week.  The company also provides vehicle pricing and values through various products and services available to car dealers, auto manufacturers, finance and insurance companies as well as governmental agencies.  KBB.com provides consumer pricing and information on cars for sale, minivans, pickup trucks, sedan, hybrids, electric cars, and SUVs.  Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com ranked highest in its category for brand equity and was named Online Auto Shopping Brand of the Year by the 2012 Harris Poll EquiTrend® study.  Kelley Blue Book Co. Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of AutoTrader Group.

SOURCE Kelley Blue Book