Small, Fuel-Efficient Vehicles on the Minds of Many Buyers in March

The Nissan Versa was the best-selling Sub-Compact in March.

Higher fuel prices helped prime sales of smaller and more fuel-efficient passenger cars, especially Sub-Compact and some Compact Conventional segment models, which boosted U.S. new-vehicle deliveries in March for nearly all automakers. The seasonally adjusted annual sales pace (SAAR) was more than 1 million units stronger than a year ago, and many automakers said March sales were their strongest since March 2008.

More than 1.4 million new vehicles were sold in the U.S. market during March, which was up 8.7% (on a selling-day-adjusted basis) from March 2011, when fewer than 1 million units were delivered, according to analysis from our Power Information Network® (PIN) and LMC Automotive.** The sales pace in March 2012 averaged 14.4 million units vs. 13 million units in March 2011.

At the segment level, Sub-Compact sales soared 36.3% and outperformed the industry, gaining nearly 1 point of share to garner 4.6% of industry sales, while Compact Conventional sales edged up only 3.1%, but still accounted for a 15.8% share of the market. Led by Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion, Midsize Conventional segment sales increased by 23.3% and the category captured 2 more points of share to end March with 18.4% of industry sales. Also noteworthy: Large Pickups, up 9.3% as a category and with the help of incentives, outperformed the industry’s 8.7% improvement as the segment garnered a 10.4% share in March 2012. Continue reading ›

October Retail Sales Finish Slightly Ahead of Expected Pace

Robust light-vehicle sales in the US market during the final days of October helped push the month’s sales totals higher than anticipated, according to J.D. Power and LMC Forecasting analysis and data.* Retail deliveries averaged a 10.5 million-unit selling pace in October, which matched September’s retail sales pace. Fleet sales averaged nearly a 2.7 million-unit rate, which was up by 900,000 units from October 2010.

Total October deliveries (including retail and fleet) rose 11.5% from the same month a year ago to 1.02 million units from nearly 950,000 unit sales in the same month last year. The annual selling rate (SAAR) in October averaged 13.2 million units, which was 1 million units stronger than last October’s 12.2 million-unit pace. It was the strongest selling pace since February 2011. Continue reading ›

President’s Day Offers Tilt Sales Higher in February

Higher gasoline prices did not stop car buyers from visiting US dealer showrooms to purchase or lease a new vehicle in February, as many deals likely were primed with holiday offers. Demand for new light vehicles in February—including small, fuel-efficient cars as well as large pickups and a number of crossovers—climbed 27% from last year’s somewhat anemic levels, which were negatively impacted by recalls that curbed sales and production of Toyota models and also kept consumers away from showrooms. Also, GM sales were weaker last year following the company’s restructuring after emerging from bankruptcy.

In the month just ended, all multi-franchise and independent automakers posted year-over-year sales gains. Although a number of manufacturers reported strong gains for light-truck models, they also reported higher sales of more fuel-efficient models—those averaging 40+ mpg. Among the strong sellers were the Ford Fiesta (strongest sales month yet); Hyundai Elantra (+54%), and the Honda Fit (+44%).

“President’s Day marketing campaigns from many automakers boosted retail sales significantly last week,” according to Jeff Schuster, executive director of global forecasting for J.D. Power and Associates, who also pointed out that retail sales rose significantly from a year ago. “It looks like February’s total sales pace (retail and fleet) will be close to 13.4 million units, which would outdistance January’s pace.” Continue reading ›

US Auto Market is Re-energized by October Sales

October was the best month this year for US auto sales, according to reports from the manufacturers. The strong performance was partly due to high demand for new or redesigned models, such as the new 2011 Ford Fiesta and 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. At the segment level, crossovers and large pickups were more popular . . . Continue Reading US Auto Market is Re-energized by October Sales