Automakers Continue Comeback
The three big U.S. automakers all announced strong sales for March. Buyers across the nation visited dealerships in masses not seen in a number of years, to purchase everything from large pickups down to fuel-efficient compact cars.
When the other automakers complete the March reporting cycle later today, it will cap what is expected to be the best quarter for U.S. auto sales since the early part of 2008. That came before the increase in gas prices and the financial meltdown that devastated the industry’s sales and nearly caused the U.S. auto industry to end.
Industry sales should come in at an annual rate of over 14 million vehicles, as it did for January and February. Only August of 2009 reached that level since the middle of 2008, when sales jumped due to the program “Cash for Clunkers.”
Due to the strong first quarter, some analysts have increased their targets for the year to 15 million up from the nearly 13 million in 2011. That increase is a much faster return than what analysts had anticipated, as recently has the end of last year.
The increase in sales has come even with gas prices increasing steadily from February through March. Gas now has a national average of near $4 per gallon.
Usually auto sales overall, are hurt when gas prices jump, as decline in demand for models that are less fuel-efficient outweighs the gains in vehicles of high mileage. However, this time around that has not happened.
One reason for the greater demand today, is that Detroit has more offerings in small cars then they had previously.