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New-Car Sales to Fall in March

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March 26, 2015—New-vehicle sales are expected to decline 0.3 percent year-over-year to a total of 1.53 million units in March 2015, resulting in an estimated 16.9 million seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), according to Kelley Blue Book. The projected slight decline in volume in March is largely due to one fewer Saturday this month compared to last year.

"Similar to last year, winter weather had a negative impact on new-car sales in February," said Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book. "Consumers then returned to the market in a big way last March, and we expect a similar, though less pronounced, bump in sales this March, too. Auto sales are currently being led by pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, which is good news for the automakers focused on these segments, as these are typically their most profitable units." 

First-quarter sales should total 3.93 million units, up from 3.74 million units a year ago, for a 5.1 percent improvement. This will be the best first quarter since 2007. Total sales in 2015 are projected to hit 16.9 million overall, a 2.5 percent year-over-year increase and the highest total since 2005, when sales fell just shy of 17 million units.    

Key highlights for the estimated March 2015 sales forecast:

  • New light-vehicle sales, including fleet, are expected to reach 1,530,000 units, down 0.3 percent from March 2014 and up 21.9 percent from February 2015.
  • The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) for March 2015 is estimated to be 16.9 million, up from 16.4 million in March 2014 and up from 16.2 million in February 2015.
  • Retail sales are expected to account for 81.5 percent of volume in March 2015, up from 80.5 percent in March 2014.

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