Wanna know what exactly has changed everything in the U.S. car sales? Well the specialists blame it all on the post-Hurricane Harvey replacement demand and makeup deals from storm-delayed August purchases. And the more important question: Will it continue? Analyst Alec Gutierrez of Kelley Blue Book said hurricane replacement sales will provide a modest boost for two or three months. But he says the lift isn't enough to change his full-year forecast of 17.1 million, which would be down from last year's 17.6 million sales.
Still, auto company economists say U.S. market fundamentals support growth in the months ahead. Last week, Ford Chief Economist Emily Kolinski Morris predicted fourth-quarter growth "in the 2 percent-plus range" for the general economy. General Motors Chief Economist Mustafa Mohatarem called the economy "the main force" driving auto volume. "With the U.S. economy strengthening, retail sales should remain strong for the foreseeable future," he said.
Indeed, September was so strong that two automakers cured their sales year so far. Toyota Motor Sales and American Honda were down through eight months, but strong Septembers flipped them into positive territory. And some see September as the first round of a fourth-quarter skirmish among automakers as victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma replace storm-damaged vehicles.