Why Are Carmakers Celebrating?

The automobile industry can celebrate after a forecaster announced unit sales of new vehicles in the U.S. are expected to be 1.4 million in March, the highest since August 2007. Sales are up 23.3 percent from February and have grown 13.7 percent from the figure for March 2011, according to data from TrueCar.com.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales will rise to 14.5 million, up over 10.5 percent from the March 2011 figure of 13.1 million.

“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.,” TrueCar.com’s Jesse Toprak said. “We also forecast that Chrysler, Ford (NYSE:F), GM (NYSE:GM), Honda (NYSE:HMC), and Toyota (NYSE:TM) will have an extremely strong month, with some of the highest unit sales in years.”

Hyundai is projected to add 33.5 percent to its unit sales from last month, Nissan to add 20.3 percent and Volkswagen to add 25.7 percent. Chrysler, at 24.5 percent, and Toyota at 21.8 percent, are also showing high growth from February.

Retail sales are up 14.3 percent compared to March 2011 and up 26.5 percent from February 2012, while the industry average incentive spending per unit will be approximately $2,440 in March 2012, a decrease of 1.5 percent from February 2012. Used car sales are estimated to be 2.7 million, up 9.5 percent from March 2011 and up 28.7 percent from February 2012.

“Consumers who wanted a new vehicle, but were cautiously sitting on the sidelines, are entering the market and feeling more confident about buying,” said Kristen Andersson, an analyst at TrueCar.com.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aabha Rathee at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com