U.S. auto sales in January are on track to outpace those from a year earlier, with retail sales overcoming a slight drop in fleet demand, J.D. Power and Associates said today. Read more after the jump!
(AN)–â€œTypically January is a weak month because of the push to end the year on a high note, but the volume and selling rate has been slightly higher than average,â€ said Jeff Schuster, executive director of global forecasting.
â€œIt’s a good signal for where the year is going.â€
Citing a slow but steady recovery in the U.S. economy, J.D. Power increased its forecast for retail sales this year to 10.5 million units, up from a previous estimate of 10.4 million. It also boosted its estimate for total vehicle sales to 13 million units, up from 12.8 million.
That would mark a 12 percent increase from last year’s 11.6 million. That total reflected an 11 percent rise from the industry’s 27-year low in 2009.
New light-vehicle retail sales will jump to 632,100 units, 23 percent higher than the same period last year, the market research firm said. January’s seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate should reach 10 million units, almost 2 million units above January of last year but down from a 10.9 million retail SAAR in December, the company said.
Total vehicle sales will reach 794,500 units this month, up 14 percent from a year earlier, J.D. Power said. Fleet sales will account for 20 percent of that total.
â€œLast January’s sales were driven by a replenishment of fleets, which were greatly depleted in 2009,â€ Schuster said.
In 2010, fleet sales represented 21 percent of all light-vehicle demand, he said.
J.D. Power said it expects North American vehicle production to rise 7 percent to 12.6 million vehicles in 2011.
The firm based its estimates on transaction data from more than 8,900 U.S. retail franchisees during the first 11 selling days of the month.
Edmunds.com CEO Jeremy Anwyl also released his sales estimates for January this week on his blog, Just to Clarify.
He expects retail sales of 702,000 units in January, or a SAAR of 10.6 million. He put overall January light-vehicle sales at 846,000 units, for a SAAR of 12.7 million. That would be the fourth straight month above 12 million.
Anwyl expects 17 percent of sales to come from fleet deliveries, down from a year earlier when fleet vehicles accounted for one-quarter of all sales.
â€œLast January saw unusual levels for restocking and possibly local governments ordering new fleet vehicles with stimulus dollars. So I don’t think 25 [percent] is something we will repeat anytime soon,â€ Anwyl wrote. â€œBut 17 [percent] seems low, as fleet sales are typically front loaded with a new year.â€