New Car Sales Up 10.5 Percent for 2010 – Fleet a Large Reason

There’s no denying that the automotive industry is still in a bit of a sales slump when compared to historical figures, but 2010 is going to see new car sales up 10.5 percent (with fleet and rental car sales a large reason) when compared to 2009 with a similar bump predicted for 2011.

A huge factor has been strong demand in fleet and rental sales. Manufacturers publicly disavow an interest in fleet and rental sales because of their effects on residual values and brand perception, but privately embrace them because they have been a means of keeping the lights on in 2010.

Fleet and rental sales will account for about 20 percent of the projected 11.5 million new cars that will be sold in 2010, according to projections from TrueCar.com. (Final numbers will be available the first week of January 2011.) According to a report at Autoblog, in the third quarter of 2010, retail sales were down four percent from the prior year whereas fleet volume was up 24 percent.

That percentage may not hold true for 2011 as more consumers get back into the market. “Consumer confidence is rising and there is a lot of pent-up demand in the market,” said Jesse Toprak, VP of Industry Trends and Insight for TrueCar.com. “The retail market continues to improve which bodes well for the automotive industry heading into 2011.”

Edmunds.com outlined how various sectors of the new vehicle market will do for 2010:

  • Truck sales are expected to be up 14.9 percent
  • SUV sales are up 21.3 percent over last year
  • Midsize car sales are expected to be up 7.8 percent over last year
  • Compact car sales are up just 1.1 percent
  • Hybrid sales are down 8.1 percent

That last number on the surface may be the most interesting. It may not bode well for sales of electric vehicles beyond those who buy them for appearance sake and not actual practicality. However, predictions of $5 a gallon gas in the near future may change consumer buying habits and compact car and hybrid sales could see huge gains.

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