Fueled by the high demand in the retail market, the new-vehicle sales in the U.S. for March are predicted to increase 6 to 14% compared to last year. Research firms J.D. Power and Associates and LMC Automotive estimated that March total sales will end with 1,372,400 cars and light trucks, compared with 1,244,009 vehicles in March 2011. The research companies said that this projection will put the industry on track to reach an annual sales rate for the month of 14.1 million vehicles. In comparison, 15.1 million units were sold in February and 13 million in March 2011. Kelley Blue Book estimates that new-vehicle sales will reach1,425,000 units, or a 14.6 million seasonally adjusted sales rate in March 2012.
This is 24% higher than last month and is 12% higher than March 2011. In a statement, Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst of automotive insights for Kelley Blue Book, said that March sales are expected to be strong but it will still be lower than the 15.1 million SAAR reported last month. Some of the factors that contributed to the impressive sales in February are the unseasonably warm weather throughout the U.S. and the added selling day because of the leap year, resulting to a strong seasonally adjusted sales rate that isn’t likely to repeat this year.
January and February sales in the U.S. had exceeded expectations but some analysts and industry executives think that the industry won’t make a significant recovery until U.S. home prices increase and consumers feel richer. In the statement, John Humphrey, senior vice president of global automotive operations at J.D. Power, said that each month that has strong sales will lead to enhanced optimism that the growth pace stands for a true recovery. He added that sales will continue on a solid pace for the remaining months of the year just as long as there is no more cause for alarm as the result of geopolitical issues in the Gulf region and additional upward pressure on the oil’s price.