Strong car sales expected for March


Kelley Blue BookKelley Blue Book is projecting that US new car sales will hit 1,425,000 units in March, which would be the highest level since 2007. That volume would put new car sales at an annual sales rate of 14.6 million.

March is traditionally a strong month for car sales, since  consumers are receiving tax refund checks and heading to dealer showrooms. KBB’s projection of March auto sales is up 24% from February and 14% from March of 2011. But the seasonally adjusted sales rate (SAAR) of 14.6 million is actually down from the February pace.

“Although we anticipate strong sales in March, it will fall short of the 15.1 million SAAR posted last month,” said Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst of automotive insights for Kelley Blue Book. “Sales in February were aided by unseasonably warm weather across the United States and an additional selling day due to the Leap Year, triggering a strong seasonally adjusted sales rate that will not likely repeat this year. Conditions in the economy have generally been positive through the first few months of the year, and if conditions remain steady, the industry can expect to see continued strength in sales for the months ahead. Rising fuel prices could slow down the current momentum in sales growth if left unchecked, so this will be a key factor to monitor moving forward.”

Rising Fuel Prices will Continue to Bolster Sales of Fuel-Sippers
Sales Volume Market Share
Segment Mar-12 Mar-11 YOY% Mar-12 Mar-11 YOY
Mid-Size Car 269,500 209,962 28.3% 18.9% 16.8% 2.1%
Compact Car 221,000 210,993 4.7% 15.5% 16.9% -1.4%
Compact Crossover 159,500 135,897 17.4% 11.2% 10.9% 0.3%
Full-Size Pickup Truck 147,000 130,437 12.5% 10.3% 10.5% -0.1%
Subcompact Car 71,500 50,674 40.6% 5.0% 4.1% 1.0%
Total 1,425,000* 1,246,668 14.3%
*Includes segments not shownSoruce: Kelley Blue Book,