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New-Vehicle Retail Sales in February Expected to Cross the 1 Million Mark

New-Vehicle Retail Sales in February Expected to Cross the 1 Million Mark

By Jeff Youngs, February 20, 2015

Retail and total sales of new vehicles this month are forecasted to reach a higher level than any February since 2002, and 9% higher than February 2014. According to a monthly sales report developed jointly by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive, new-vehicle retail sales in February 2015 are projected to come to a total of 1,033,100 units.

The retail seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) in February is expected to reach 13.5 million units--1.1 million units more than in February 2014--representing the highest retail SAAR for any February since 2004. Total new light-vehicle sales (including fleet sales) are expected to reach 1.3 million units in February 2015, equal to the previous high for total sales in February 2002. Lease penetration through the first 11 selling days in February is 27.4% of retail, its highest level ever.

"The industry had a great start to 2015 in January, and that sales momentum continues in February with exceptional growth in retail sales," said John Humphrey, Senior Vice President of the Global Automotive Practice at J.D. Power.

New-vehicle sales in early 2015 are moving at a pace comparable to that of the fourth quarter of 2014. As a result, LMC Automotive is increasing its 2015 forecast for both retail and total light-vehicle sales by approximately 40,000 units, each still rounding to 14.0 million and 17.0 million, respectively. February 2015 production is expected to drop to 1.3 million units, a decline of 3% from February 2014. However, LMC Automotive forecasts that 2015 production will finish at 17.5 million, a gain of 3% from 2014.

"Strength at the start of 2015 is a key factor in keeping the industry on target to surpass annual vehicle sales of 17 million units for the first time since 2001," said Jeff Schuster, Senior Vice President of Forecasting at LMC Automotive. "Given all the positive factors, including the economy, gas prices, and fresh new products in showrooms, rain clouds are expected to stay out of the auto sales forecast for the duration of 2015."

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