New-Vehicle Retail Sales Pace in February Rebounds

February new-vehicle retail sales bounced back in the second week of the month and we project retail deliveries to climb 28% from the same month a year ago to a 10.3 million unit seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) compared to an 8.0 million-unit rate a year ago, according to our latest update.

Dave Cutting

Retail sales in February got off to a slow start due to snowstorms that affected much of the country. The market rebounded quickly in the second week, leading to a slightly stronger retail selling rate than in January (10.2 million units).  

Based on analysis of our Power Information Network® (PIN) retail transaction data through the first 11 selling days of the month, we expect fleet sales to account for about 20% of the sales mix, which was about the same as the percentage of sales mix in January 2011.

Total light-vehicle deliveries (retail and fleet) for February are expected to climb by 17% to 913,000 units from 778,617 units February 2010 and equal a 12.4 million-unit sales pace. The projected February total sales race is significantly stronger than the10.5 million unit pace a year ago, but slightly lower than a 12.6 million-unit pace in January 2011.

In line with strong vehicle sales, production levels in North America were up about 14% from January 2010. We are expecting output volume to stabilize at a higher level in 2011 than in 2010, but the increases likely will be smaller in future months.—Dave Cutting, senior manager of North American Production Forecasting at J.D. Power and Associates

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