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Volkswagen and Honda leading gains as KBB predicts strongest sales since 2007

Kelley Blue Book is predicting new car sales will hit 1,450,000 units – the highest monthly sales total since August 2007, with Volkswagen and Honda leading the pack with gains of 9.6 and 8.9 percent respectively.
Posted: March 26, 2013 - 7:23PM
Author: Don Bain

This means the annual rate of seasonally adjusted sales is holding steady for a projected total of 15.2 million vehicles, while full size pickups are again showing market share growth. This marks a 3.2 percent increase from last year, according to KBB.

However, after adjusting for the number of selling days in March, the numbers roll over to reveal a 7 percent improvement, showing slightly less numeric increases than the first two months of 2013, but still on track for the annual projection.

"Sales will be boosted by record low interest rates and a slowly improving job market, which recently saw the unemployment rate and new unemployment claims fall to five-year lows," said Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst of automotive insights for Kelley Blue Book. "In addition, with attractive financing and ample inventory to choose from, many people receiving tax refunds will use their returns toward a down payment on a new vehicle this month."

While Volkswagen is in the catbird seat, the single digit increase marks a slight cooling of the VW line, in the light of double-digit gains throughout 2012.

At a close second, Honda sales have been buoyed by the introduction of the next generation of the Accord, which stands poised to dethrone Toyota’s dominance of the mid-size sedan market with the Camry line.

In order of ranking by March sales increase projections:

Volkswagen 53,000 9.6%
Honda (US) 138,000 8.7%
GM 246,000 6.5%
Ford 233,000 4.5%
Chrysler 169,000 3.4%
Toyota 209,000 2.8%

Meanwhile, Nissan North America and Hyundai-Kia sales numbers dropped year over year by 4.3 and 6.1 percent respectively.

Trucks to Show Segment Gain Again
While attractive incentives remain in place, the online authority expects sales of full-size pickup trucks to grow by 14.9 percent year-over-year this month, the strongest growth among all segments.

"Although incentives have helped boost truck sales in recent months, a steady climb in housing starts will continue to support the truck market even if incentive spending declines," said Gutierrez. "Incentives aren't expected to come down anytime soon, especially with a more than 90-day supply of Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 1500 pickups available for sale nationwide."

Though truck sales are surprisingly expected to make industry sales gains, the midsize sedan is still first in the mind of most shoppers.

The Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion were the most often searched vehicles on during March, with midsize sedans occupying the interest of 13.6 percent of new car shoppers.

Thanks to a bevy of refreshed models for 2013, Kelley Blue Book predicts mid-size vehicles will continue to lead the industry with a market share of 18.4 percent.

The market share of full size trucks in expected to be 11.7 percent, up from 10.5 in 2012.

What’s left to be seen is what inroads the thus far minimal market impact of hybrids, plug-ins and electric vehicles will total this year. That could still surprise us all.