March 2013 US Auto Sales Forecast: Up 5.3% From Last Year With GM Leading In Market Share

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By Angelo Young | April 2, 2013 12:54 AM EST

U.S. new auto sales figures will be released by the world’s top automakers on Tuesday, and so far, optimism abounds as the industry continues its path to recovery.

Total U.S. new-vehicle sales for March are forecast to have risen 5.3 percent from last year, to 1,478 208 units, according to Emunds.com. This would mark a 24 percent rise from February’s 1,191,904 units.

Taking into account its March estimate, Edmunds’ Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) is 15.6 million units.

The Detroit based online auto researcher predicts that General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) will see the biggest market share in March, to 17 percent, but will see a 1.8 percent decline in market share from February’s 18.8 percent. Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (TYO:7267) is the only major automaker expected to see an increase in both year-over-year (up 0.3 points to 9.3 percent) and month-over-month (up 0.2 points from 9.1 percent) rises in market share in March.

Kelley Blue Book’s SAAR estimate is slightly lower, at 1,450,000 unit sales for the month with an SAAR of 15.2 million.

“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.  

Many Americans qualified for income tax returns have already received the money; some of them will use the extra cash as a down payment on vehicle purchases.

Last year 14.5 million cars and light trucks were sold in the U.S., up from the 10.2 million sold in the heat of the last recession in 2009 but down from pre-recession levels of between 16 million and 17 million units.

Here are Kelley’s forecast unit sales for the top eight automakers:

- GM: 246,000 Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F): 233,000
- Toyota Motor Corporation (TYO:7203): 209,000
- Chrysler LLC, a subsidiary of Italian company Fiat SpA (Milan:F): 169,000
- American Honda Motor Co., Inc.: 138,000
- Nissan North America, Inc.: 130,500
- Hyundai Motor Company (including Kia): 119,500
- Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.: 53,000
TOTAL: 1,298,000

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