Forecast: March U.S. Vehicle Sales Will Hit Nearly Five-Year High

March 27, 2012
'We are looking at a record-breaking month for many manufacturers in March.'

Building on the momentum of January and February, U.S. light-vehicle sales in March will reach their highest level since August 2007, according to a forecast by

The website expects sales of light vehicles -- including fleets -- to be 1.42 million units, up 13.7% year-over-year and up 23.3% over February on an unadjusted basis.

"We are looking at a record-breaking month for many manufacturers in March, with Hyundai (IW 1000/27), Nissan (IW 1000/29) and Volkswagen (IW 1000/10) expected to have their highest unit sales ever in the U.S.," said Jesse Toprak, vice president of market intelligence for Santa Monica, Calif.-based

The website also sees Chrysler Group, Ford Motor Co. (IW 500/6), General Motors Co. (IW 500/5), Honda Motor Co. (IW 1000/23) and Toyota Motor Corp. (IW 1000/5) posting "extremely strong" numbers in March, Toprak said.

The auto industry's "stronger than expected recovery" has prompted to up its full-year sales forecast by 3.6%, from 14 million units to 14.5 million units, Toprak noted. expects fleet and rental sales to make up 19.5% of total industry sales in March.

The website predicts that average incentive spending per unit will be approximately $2,440 in March, which would mark a 1.7% drop year-over-year and a 1.5% decrease over February.

"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, senior analyst at "Automakers have hit the sweet spot this month with lowered incentives and double-digit sales increases, which signifies the underlying strength in consumer demand." bases its forecast on transaction data, along with current and historical factors such as sales, inventory, incentives, fuel prices and macroeconomic data.

About the Author

Josh Cable | Former Senior Editor

Former Senior Editor Josh Cable covered innovation issues -- including trends and best practices in R&D, process improvement and product development. He also reported on the best practices of the most successful companies and executives in the world of transportation manufacturing, which encompasses the aerospace, automotive, rail and shipbuilding sectors. 

Josh also led the IndustryWeek Manufacturing Hall of Fame, IW’s annual tribute to the most influential executives and thought leaders in U.S. manufacturing history.

Before joining IndustryWeek, Josh was the editor-in-chief of Penton Media’s Government Product News and Government Procurement. He also was an award-winning beat reporter for several small newspapers in Northeast Ohio.

Josh received his BFA in creative writing from Bowling Green University, and continued his professional development through course-work at Ohio University and Cuyahoga Community College.

A lifelong resident of the Buckeye State, Josh currently lives in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland. When the weather cooperates, you’ll find him riding his bike to work, exercising his green thumb in the backyard or playing ultimate Frisbee.  

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