JD Power-LMC forecasts December auto sales up 14 percent

DETROIT — Auto sales are expected to end the year strongly, increasing 14 percent in December for the second highest monthly selling rate as consumers shake off fears about economic uncertainty, consultants J.D. Power & Associates and LMC Automotive said on Thursday.

LMC also boosted its 2012 forecast for total new light-vehicle sales in the United States to 14.5 million vehicles from 14.4 million. That would be an increase of 13.3 percent from 2011.

The auto industry has been steadily recovering since 2009, when U.S. sales hit a 28-year low of 10.4 million vehicles.

For December, they see sales rising 14 percent to almost 1.36 million vehicles and an annual selling rate in the month of 15.3 million vehicles, which would trail only November’s 15.54 million rate as the strongest of the year.

“The U.S. light-vehicle sales market continues to be a bright spot in the tremulous global environment,” LMC Senior Vice President Jeff Schuster said in a statement.

Chrysler June sales up 20 percent, slightly above expectations

DETROIT, Tue Jul 3, 2012, – Chrysler Group LLC’s June U.S. auto sales rose 20 percent to 144,811 vehicles, the company said on Tuesday, slightly topping analyst expectations.

It was the 27th consecutive month that Chrysler sales topped those from the previous year, and its best June sales since 2007.

Chrysler, an affiliate of Italy’s Fiat SpA, is the first of the major automakers to report U.S. June sales.

J.D. Power and Associates and LMC Automotive expect a 20-percent gain in U.S. auto sales for June.

Auto sales are an early sign of consumer spending each month. The auto industry has been one of the bright spots in the U.S. economy this year, but deteriorating European markets have led industry executives to worry about possible contagion spreading to North America.

The Chrysler brand of vehicles showed a 63-percent gain in sales, followed by its Jeep brand at a 23-percent gain, Ram truck up 12 percent and the Dodge brand up only 2 percent, Chrysler said.

February auto sales rise; GM posts surprise gain

DETROIT –  March 1: A surprising sales gain by General Motors Co. and strong performances by Ford Motor Co. and others helped push U.S. February auto sales to their highest annual sales rate in nearly four years as consumer confidence improved and drivers gave in to the need to replace their aging cars and trucks.

The sales gains came even as fuel prices shot up last month, spurring consumers seek out smaller, more environmentally friendly cars. Sales of Ford’s Focus small car more than doubled in February.

The annual sales rate, a closely watched industry yardstick, was on track to reach 14.7 million vehicles, JP Morgan analysts said. That would be the best monthly showing since March 2008, before the financial crisis that sent Detroit into a tailspin.

GM said the rate could be as high as 14.9 million vehicles, topping the high end of analyst estimates.

GM’s U.S. sales chief, Don Johnson, told analysts on a conference call that this could be the best monthly seasonally adjusted annual rate since 2008.

September automotive sales up, allaying fears of recession

DETROIT ― Major automakers posted double-digit percentage U.S. sales gains for September in a rebound that General Motors Co. said showed the economy was likely to steer clear of a double-dip recession.

Among the Detroit automakers, GM sales rose 20 percent, while Ford’s rose 9 percent and Chrysler Group was up 27 percent. Nissan Motor Co saw a sales gain of 25 percent and Volkswagen AG posted a sales increase of 36 percent.

The initial sales reports put industrywide sales on track to near 13 million vehicles on an annualized basis, at the high end of the range of analysts’ forecasts.

That would represent the strongest sales pace since April and an increase of roughly 10 percent from the sales rate of September 2010.

Last month’s auto sales were bolstered by increased inventory levels for Japanese automakers that had been depleted through the summer, by steady gasoline prices and a trickle back of demand from customers looking to replace aging vehicles, executives and analysts said.

GM sales chief Don Johnson said the September auto sales and other recent economic data “all point to a slow growth scenario but not a double dip.”

GM kept its forecast for industrywide auto sales unchanged and said it expected to see increasing sales in October through December.

The top U.S. automaker forecasts overall U.S. vehicle sales of at least 13 million, including medium and heavy duty trucks. That would be up from the sales rate of 12.8 million on that basis in the year to date.

In another indicator of economic resilience, U.S. factory activity expanded at a faster pace than expected in September, the Institute for Supply Management said on Monday.VW America Chief Executive Jonathan Browning said the September sales results pointed to a moderate increase in U.S. auto sales through the remainder of the year.

“It’s hard to give a very simple summary because a lot of people are anxious about the future and you see that in the consumer sentiment, consumer confidence surveys, but at the same time many people are recognizing that this is a good time to buy,” he said.

U.S. auto sales represent one of the earliest snapshots of consumer demand.

GM shares were up 1 percent at $20.41 around midday and Ford Motor Co shares were flat at $9.67.

August automotive sales up despite economic turbulence

DETROIT ― Major automakers posted double-digit U.S. sales gains for August from year-earlier levels, a steady result for a month that began with a plunge on Wall Street and ended with a hurricane shutting down the East Coast.

General Motors Co. reported a sales gain of 18 percent, slightly below some analyst expectations. Ford Motor sales were up 11 percent. Chrysler had its best August sales in four years with a 31 percent sales increase.

Auto industry executives said the sales gains pointed to an encouraging stability in demand for big-ticket purchases in the face of renewed economic uncertainty.

“In our view, consumers are being cautious, yes, and rightly so, but they are not retrenching,” said GM’s head of U.S. sales, Don Johnson. “You have to remember that the sales we’re seeing are very low by historical standards.”

Sales for Nissan Motor Co. rose 19 percent. Sales for Volkswagen AG were up 10 percent.

GM estimated that industrywide U.S. auto sales would be about flat from July when adjusted for seasonal factors and tracked on an annualized basis.

JD Power sees June auto sales up 2.6 percent from May figures

DETROIT ― J.D. Power and Associates forecast that June U.S. auto sales will rise 8 percent from a year ago and 2.6 percent from last month, in line with statements earlier this week from General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. executives.

The industry consultant and analyst dropped its forecast for full-year 2011 sales to 12.9 million vehicles from 13 million vehicles, as J.D. Power said there was greater uncertainty about the overall U.S. economy for the rest of the year.

Pickup trucks and compact cars each will show a larger portion of overall sales in June from May, it said.

“There has been some easing of negative variables in June, as the inventory shortage has not been as severe as expected, and gasoline prices have dropped noticeably from higher levels in April and May,” said Jeff Schuster, executive director of global forecasting for J.D. Power and Associates.

“Provided that the economy decides to cooperate, the automotive summer slowdown will only be a speed bump, and a return of a measurable recovery pace is still expected in the second half of 2011,” Schuster said.

An inventory shortage caused by Japanese automaker and supplier production issues due to the March 11 earthquake in Japan was not as acute as was thought weeks ago, J.D. Power said.

The 8 percent rise from June 2010 forecast by J.D. Power would mean a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, a figure that the auto industry follows, for total light vehicles of 12 million, up from 11.7 million in May and 11.1 million last June.

June retail sales ― which do not include bulk fleet sales to rental agencies, government and business ― are forecast to show 9.9 million in auto sales on the annualized basis. That would be a 6.5 percent rise from May.

Retail sales are a better indication of consumer demand than the total light vehicle figure, and are generally more profitable for dealers and automakers.