Auto Sales in March Produce Interesting Statistics

- April 8, 2013

Auto sales in March in the U.S. mar­ket actu­al­ly end­ed on a slight­ly weak­er note than antic­i­pat­ed in a fore­cast update by J.D. Pow­er and Asso­ciates.

Find out the lat­est trends and sta­tis­tics estab­lished in March.

Retail sales in March reached 1.148 mil­lion units, up near­ly 9% from a year ago on a sell­ing-day adjust­ed basis. There were 27 sell­ing days in March this year vs. 28 in the year-ago month. The sea­son­al­ly adjust­ed annu­al rate (SAAR) aver­aged 12.0 mil­lion units, which was 500,000 units stronger than a year ago, but down by about 100,000 units from the pace in Feb­ru­ary 2013. Fleets edged up slight­ly from a year ago and account­ed for near­ly 21% of total light-vehi­cle sales—although that was slight­ly low­er than a 22% share of the sales mix in March 2012.

Alto­geth­er, total sales (retail and fleet) rose 7.4% from a year ago to 1.452 mil­lion units, which trans­lat­ed to a 15.2 mil­lion-unit pace—up more than 1 mil­lion units from the pace in March a year ago. This was the fifth con­sec­u­tive month that total light-vehi­cle deliv­er­ies aver­aged at least a 15.2 mil­lion-unit sales rate.

Through the first three months of 2013, total sales were up 7.9% to near­ly 3.688 mil­lion units vs. 3.462 mil­lion units in the same peri­od of 2012.

Leas­ing Pen­e­tra­tion Accounts for One-Fourth of Trans­ac­tions

Some inter­est­ing demo­graph­ic trends were observed based on PIN real-time trans­ac­tion data. Leas­ing pen­e­tra­tion for the indus­try climbed to near­ly one-fourth (24.8%, up 5.3 per­cent­age points from last year) of retail sales in March, the high­est lev­el for the indus­try in more than 5 years.

In addi­tion, the new-vehi­cle nego­ti­at­ed price in March was 4.1% high­er than a year ago  and up a slight 0.2% from last month. The aver­age cash rebate amount was up 19.8% vs. last year, but down 5.7% from last month. The aver­age retail turn rate (the aver­age num­ber of days that a vehi­cle remains on a dealer’s lot before being sold) in March was 59 days vs. 60 days in Feb­ru­ary 2013, but 12 days longer than last March.

Crossovers and large pick­ups post­ed the best year-over-year sales gains in March. Mid­size Crossover (CUV) sales soared 26.3% and Com­pact CUV deliv­er­ies rose 14.3% from last year. Large Pick­ups also were in demand—deliveries surged by 18% from last March and mar­ket share increased by one per­cent­age point to 11.4% of indus­try sales.

Sev­er­al high-vol­ume car seg­ments post­ed small declines, includ­ing Sub-Com­pact Con­ven­tion­al and Mid­size Con­ven­tion­al, which account for 21.7% of indus­try sales in March 2013 vs. 22.6% of sales a year ago. Also, Mid­size Van and Mid­size Util­i­ty seg­ment sales fell in March from a year ago. Both seg­ments also lost share in the U.S. mar­ket from a year ago.



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