Used Sales On Rise, New-Car Sales Predicted to be Highest in Five Years

SANTA MONICA, Calif. - 

With TrueCar.com predicting that the industry will end March with the highest rate of new-car sales in five years, its analysts also noted many foreign OEMs are looking to notch their highest unit sales ever in the U.S. as this month comes to an end.

And though inventory remains tight, used sales are enjoying a significant climb as well, rising 9.5 percent year-over-year, predicted to notch 2,736,250 unit sales by the end of this month. This also marks a 28.7 percent climb from February of this year.

And a predicted rise in new light vehicle sales are contributing to what TrueCar.com analysts stressed is the highest Q1 SAAR since 2008, sitting at 14.6 million.

New light vehicle sales are expected to come in at 1,416,703, according to TrueCar.com. This represents a 13.7 percent climb year-over-year, as well as a 23.3 percent rise from February.

This also translates into a predicted SAAR of 14.5 million sales, which is up from 13.1 million year-over-year but down slightly from February’s projected SAAR of 15.1.

Commenting on the news and reasons behind the climb, Kristen Andersson, senior analyst at TrueCar.com, said, "Consumers who wanted a new vehicle, but were cautiously sitting on the sidelines, are entering the market and feeling more confident about buying.

"Automakers have hit the sweet spot this month with lowered incentives and double digit sales increases, which signifies the underlying strength in consumer demand,” she added.

And retail sales are also up, rising 14.3 percent compared to March 2011 and up 26.5 percent from February of this year.

And as for incentives, “The industry average incentive spending per unit will be approximately $2,440 in March 2012, which represents a decrease of 1.5 percent from February 2012 and decrease of 1.7 percent from March 2011,” company officials noted.

And a few OEMs, in particular, are contributing to March’s high sales rate. 

Leading the pack when it comes to improvement from 2011 sales rates, TrueCar.com predicts that Chrysler will sell 160,256 units by the end of this month, marking a 19.3 percent improvement from February and a significant 31.2 percent climb year-over-year. 

Rounding out the Big 3, Ford and General Motors are expected to sell 215,182 and 249,997 units, respectively.

And as these domestic nameplates are predicted to hold the biggest piece of the market pie this month, TrueCar.com officials stressed that a few foreign OEMs are making big strides with American consumers.

Commenting on the statistics, Jesse Toprak, vice president of market intelligence for TrueCar.com, said,"We are looking at a record breaking month for many manufacturers in March with Hyundai, Nissan and Volkswagen expected to have their highest unit sales ever in the U.S.

"We also forecast that Chrysler, Ford, GM, Honda and Toyota will have an extremely strong month, with some of the highest unit sales in years. Due to stronger than expected recovery, we've increased our sales forecast another 3.6 percent, from 14.0 million unit sales to 14.5 million unit sales in 2012,” he continued.

TrueCar.com offered the following forecasts for the top eight manufacturers for March 2012: 
 

Today's top headlines