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.