TrueCar forecasts sustained auto sales expansion in February

(February 23, 2015) SANTA MONICA, Calif. — TrueCar projects the pace of February auto sales expanded to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of 16.7 million new units on continued strong consumer demand.

New light vehicle sales, including fleet, should reach 1,295,600 units for the month, up 8.5 percent over a year ago. This same increase is expected on a daily selling rate (DSR) basis with 24 selling days this February versus a year ago.

"Strong February auto sales signal a very healthy U.S. economy," said Eric Lyman, vice president of industry insights for TrueCar. "Given this month's robust demand, the industry remains on track to hit TrueCar's 17 million-unit projection for the 2015."

With GDP expanding for a third consecutive quarter and a healthy stock market – the Dow Jones industrial average has gained 12 percent in the past year as of Feb. 20 — the U.S. economy is on solid footing. Additionally, sustained low gas prices continue to buoy consumer confidence and support increased personal consumption expenditures.

While the outlook for 2015 auto sales and U.S. economic expansion is upbeat, this month's disruption in operations at West Coast ports may have some impact. A preliminary resolution between workers and port operators was announced Feb. 20 after a standoff that slowed shipments of parts and imported vehicles to some automakers. February auto sales appear unaffected though Japan-based manufacturers such as Honda, Toyota and Subaru curbed production this month, a move that may tighten March inventories.

Incentive spending by automakers averaged $2,623 per vehicle in February, down 2.9 percent from a year ago and up 1.4 percent over January.

"Automakers should expect to post net revenue gains this month," said Lyman.  "With overall restrained incentive spending, natural consumer demand is driving the increase in sales this month."

Other key findings for February:

    • Expected registration mix of 81.8 percent retail sales and 18.2 percent fleet versus 80.7 percent retail and 19.3 percent fleet last February.

    • Total used auto sales, including franchise and independent dealerships and private party transactions, may exceed 3,315,654, up 1.5 percent compared with February 2014.

Forecasts for the 10 largest manufacturers by volume for February 2015: