Hurricane Harvey & Irma Affect Fuel, Prices & Car Sales

IHS Markt released it finding of the affects of Hurricane Harvey and Irma on fuel prices, car sales and pricing.

IHS Markit reported that within a matter of days, one-quarter of the U.S. refining system was offline as three major Gulf Coast refining centers shuttered. After the storm passed, it took several weeks for these plants to return to full capacity due to the inherent complexity of these refineries and some logistics issues with crude oil supply, product offtake or utilities supplies caused by the flooding.

The impact of Harvey and Irma on gasoline prices was similar to prior storms Katrina, Rita and Ike in magnitude and duration. Retail prices across the U.S. were affected as refinery supplies shut down and offshore imports took time to arrive. Imports of gasoline from Europe increased rapidly but prices on both the East and West coasts increased by over 20 cents per gallon relative to crude oil price, those prices then began to decline. Directly impacted markets like Atlanta and Miami saw higher prices that lasted longer due to the impacted supply chains in these markets.

“In regards to new light vehicle sales, auto dealers in the areas affected by Harvey and Irma will realize a surge of replacement demand, which will boost overall U.S. sales levels through the first quarter of 2018,” said Chris Hopson, principal analyst – automotive for IHS Markit.

  • The Houston Designated Market Area (DMA), according to IHS Markit new light vehicle registration data, is the 10th largest in the U.S. (January–July 2017), with approximately 215,000 new vehicles registered and a 2.1 percent share of total U.S. light-vehicle registrations so far this year.
  • Incoming sales data for September reflects a very strong surge in light vehicle demand levels within the Houston DMA, although light vehicle demand in Florida appears to be recover