U.S. car sales on line for the best quarter since 2008
Americans flock to car dealers in the month of March
The Big Three U.S. automakers reported strong March sales. Americans
flocked to their new car dealers the past month to buy everything from
small, fuel-efficient vehicles to big work trucks. The month of March is
expected to cap the best quarter for auto sales in the United States
since early 2008, before the gas price spike and meltdown in financial
markets later that year.
Chrysler had no models that got 30 miles per gallon or more on the highway four short years ago. Chrysler now has six models that top that fuel efficiency benchmark. Those six models accounted for 29 percent of its March sales. And that's before what is expected to be its hottest-selling fuel-efficient model, the Dodge Dart, above, reaches dealers in June.
Analysts have raised their sales targets to nearly 15 million vehicles for 2012, up from 12.8 million last year, a much faster rebound to that benchmark than analysts anticipated even as recently as last year.
Cautious forecasts, such as full-year sales of 14.5 million, have raised their estimates substantially in recent weeks.
High sales came as gas prices rose throughout February and March, with a gallon of gas at nearly $4 by the end of last month, a record high for the time of year.
Auto sales are usually hurt by gas price spikes, as the drop in demand for less fuel-efficient models outweighs any gains in high-mileage vehicles. But that has not been the case with the current run-up in gas prices.
"The combination of credit availability, an improving economy, pent-up demand and even high fuel prices encouraging people to acquire newer, more fuel-efficient vehicles are all helping to drive industry sales," Reid Bigland, head of U.S. sales for Chrysler Group says.
Jesse Toprak, an analyst with sales tracker TrueCar, says that one other key factor is the rally in the stock market. Even if buyers aren't cashing out stock to sell cars, the recent rally in markets has given buyers the reason to go make a big ticket purchase once again after years of putting off purchases.
Nissan reported the best sales month in its history, and Toyota Motor reported the best March sales since 2008.
TrueCar estimates that lower cash-back offers and other incentives to buyers led to the highest average transaction price on record, an industry wide average of $30,748.
Detroit automakers also have much stronger offerings in the small car segment of the market than they previously did.
"The economic recovery and a deep bench of fuel-efficient cars and crossovers have been driving our sales for more than a year, but the combined impact has never been stronger than it was in March," Don Johnson, vice president, U.S. sales operations for GM says.
General Motors sold more than 100,000 cars which got 30 miles per gallon or better in the United States for the first time in company history. Overall, sales rose 14.2 percent in March from year-earlier levels.
"Since the last time fuel prices spiked, both the economy and GM's product portfolio are undeniably stronger," Johnson said.
Chrysler reported its best month in four years, selling 163,381 cars and trucks in the month, up 34 percent from a year earlier, and its best results since March 2008. Sales were roughly in line with analyst forecasts for the company.
Chrysler had no models that got 30 miles per gallon or more on the highway four short years ago. Chrysler now has six models that top that fuel efficiency benchmark. Those six models accounted for 29 percent of its March sales. And that's before what is expected to be its hottest-selling fuel-efficient model, the Dodge Dart, reaches dealers in June.
¬© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Car sales, fuel-efficient, Chrysler, Nissan, gas prices
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