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June Auto Sales Point to Continued Auto Industry Recovery

June Auto Sales Point to Continued Auto Industry Recovery

By Jeff Youngs, June 22, 2012
J.D. Power and Associates and LMC Automotive today announced that June new-vehicle retail sales are trending toward a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 11.9 million units. According to a monthly sales forecast developed by J.D. Power and Associates' Power Information Network(R) (PIN) and LMC Automotive, June retail sales are expected to reach 994,800 units, a 15-percent increase from June 2011 and the second-highest sales rate during the past 12 months. The total sales rate, including fleet purchases, is expected to reach 1,265,000 units in June.

"Despite a rising level of uncertainty with the economic recovery, consumers remain resilient in their willingness to purchase new vehicles," said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting for LMC Automotive. However, LMC Automotive is maintaining its light-vehicle sales forecast at 14.5 million for 2012, having raised it twice during the preceding two months. Schuster explained: "Concerns regarding the macro-economic environment and another potential summer slowdown have increased, but we expect the sales pace to remain strong and stable throughout the second half of the year."

Notably, as gas prices have fallen in recent months, so have sales of hybrid and electric vehicles. In April, when the average gallon of gas cost $3.84, sales of hybrid and electric vehicles represented 4.6 percent of all sales. Today, that market share stands at 3.4 percent. According to Schuster, "The hybrid and electric vehicle market closely follows gas prices, which demonstrates that while there is consumer interest in hybrid and electric vehicles, demand is heavily influenced by the economic environment, rather than pure interest in the technology."

North American light-vehicle production is expected to remain strong through the rest of 2012 and into 2013, as automakers keep factories running to meet demand. According to LMC Automotive, 14.9 million new light vehicles will be built in 2012, with 15.3 million units forecast to be produced in 2013, despite revived concerns about the economy. "As we look to the future, volume remains robust, as increases in exports, as well as imported volume resourced to North America, drive higher levels of North American production," Schuster explained.

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