Research and consulting firm J.D. Power and Associates estimated that total light-vehicle sales will exceed 1.2 million units in March 2011, up 9 percent from March 2010. New-vehicle retail sales alone account for an estimated 991,900 units.
This represents a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 10.9 million units, an increase by 15 percent from the same period the year before. U.S. auto sales in March 2011 still outpace 2010’s levels despite rising gas prices and inventory uncertainty after the recent Japan earthquake. In all, J.D. Power upped its 2011 first quarter forecast to 10.7 million units from a previously forecasted 10.6 million.
J.D. Power, due to the strength in retail sales, also increased its 2011 retail sales forecast to 10.6 million units, up from 10.5 million. Its estimate for total vehicle sales remains at 13 million units, about 13 percent higher compared to 2010.
In an interview with Automotive News, J.D. Power’s executive director of global forecasting Jeff Schuster, said that March is getting a sales boost because anticipation of inventory shortages is causing buyers to make their purchase decisions earlier.
These customers are going to the dealerships while there still is inventory on the models that may be in short supply. Some of the popular imports that have been affected by the crisis in Japan are the Nissan Rogue, the Honda Fit and the Toyota Prius.
Also, General Motors Co. has suspended production of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon small pickups at its Shreveport, La., assembly plant due to parts shortages from Japanese suppliers.