According to a forecast released by Cox Automotive, new light-vehicle sales volume is expected to rise nearly 6 percent compared to last February and 16 percent compared to last month. With leap year providing an extra selling day – 25 this year versus 24 last year, the gain is less impressive. After incorporating seasonal adjustments, the sales pace is expected to rise just slightly, from 16.5 million in February 2019 to 16.6 million this year.

According to Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist with Cox Automotive: “We’ve settled at a slower pace over the last few months, and our expectation is the new pace will continue this month and through 2020. We are in the late stage of the sales cycle, and demand is weakening even though incentives are relatively high.”

There are upside and downside risks to the forecast this month as sales in February can be greatly influenced by many factors, including harsh winter weather, according to Cox. Another risk to the vehicle market remains credit availability, particularly in subprime lending. Auto financing continues to remain strong, but a downturn in the economy will impact credit availability.

Cox reported that a higher than forecasted SAAR is possible given the strength of the underlying economy. Unemployment is at 50-year lows and the stock markets are at near all-time record highs. While fear around coronavirus is growing, it is unlikely to impact the auto market in February. The vehicle sales pace is expected to trend lower in 2020, even though economic and consumer conditions remain strong.

In February, new light-vehicle sales, including fleet, are forecast to rise to 1.33 million units, up about 75,000, or 5.9 percent compared to February 2019. When compared to last month, sales are expected to increase over 185,000 units, or 16 percent.


Cox Automotive presented its annual Barbara Cox Woman of the Year Award to Liza Myers Borches, president and CEO of Carter Myers Automotive, a fourth-generation family- and employee-owned business.

Named after Barbara Cox, the late co-owner of Cox Enterprises and daughter of the company’s founder, this honor is awarded to women who demonstrate business leadership and community advocacy, and a commitment to advancing the automotive industry. The award was presented by Cox Automotive President Sandy Schwartz during the Northwood University Dealer Education Award annual breakfast on Feb. 16, at NADA Show 2020.

“Liza exemplifies this award by sharing many of the qualities and values that we admire in Mrs. Cox,” said Schwartz. “Being part of a multi-generational, family-owned business, Liza shares a close connection with the Cox family story. Like with the Cox family, dedication to employees and the communities served has always been a priority at Carter Myers Automotive.”

Borches oversees dealership operations and is dealer principal for Carter Myers Automotive, including 15 dealerships with 17 new car franchises in Virginia. Borches joined the Carter Myers Automotive team in 2003 after seven years working with American Honda. In October 2011, Borches was the fourth generation of her family to be named Carter Myers Automotive president. She now serves as president and CEO for all Carter Myers Automotive businesses. Borches has received numerous awards including Ford’s 2009 Salute to Dealers Award. As a co-founder of Women United, a collective giving organization, she has helped raise over $500,000 for non-profits serving women and children in the Charlottesville area, among many other charitable endeavors.

CarMax, Inc. announced its board of directors has elected Mark O’Neil as a director.

O’Neil, 61, retired as COO of Cox Automotive in March. He was named to that position in 2016 following Cox’s acquisition of Dealertrack, where he was chief executive officer and a director. O’Neil worked on the development and rollout of CarMax and served in various roles at CarMax from 1992 until 2000, including as vice president from 1997 to 2000.

“Mark is an automotive industry veteran with significant experience in bringing digital innovations to market,” said Bill Nash, chief executive officer of CarMax.

Dealer sentiment is higher among franchise dealers than independents, according to the Q3 2019 Cox Automotive Dealer Sentiment Index (CADSI).The index reading of 48 indicates that slightly more dealers feel that the current market is weak compared to the number who feel the current market is strong.

The report stated franchised dealers, for example, feel the current market is strong, with an index score of 56, a two-point increase from Q2. Independent dealers, on the other hand, feel the current market is weak, with an index score in Q3 of 46, a two-point decrease from Q2.

“Dealers are becoming less optimistic as they consider the future,” said Cox Automotive Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke. “We also continue to see a big difference in outlook by type of dealer, as sentiment consistently skews more positive for franchises compared to independents.”

Market conditions remained in the top spot as the most cited negative factor for both groups.

Cox Automotive Rates & Incentives (CAR&I) announced the introduction of three new enhancements that will generate a more consistently accurate industry indicator of retail buying motivation, available on a monthly basis.

First launched as its own brand in 2016, CAR&I is the powerful combination of two of Cox Automotive's well-known operations: Dealertrack Rates & Residuals, a data provider for lease and residual value calculation, and AIS Rebates, a reader-friendly guide to incentivized manufacturer offers. Both brands demonstrated decades of success before joining forces to power CAI applications and external client needs. CAR&I’s incentive database contains more than 10 million individual data points collected across all industry verticals. The addition of three new enhancements include:

  • Automation of data input: facilitates added speed and accuracy of information release by allowing dealers and software integrators to publish and update new incentives quicker for more precise and up to date offers and discounts;
  • Dynamic transaction templates: reformatting data allows for real-time deal scenario-building, enabling the consumer to transact 100 percent online with incentives that are specific to their household, vehicle and location with full compliance; and
  • Advertised specials: full set of OEM compliant tier I and II advertising offers used in digital advertising and competitive research making it easy to implement single integration for all OEM’s including factory and dealer disclaimers.
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