First new car sale numbers are coming in for February, and they are better than the most optimistic projections. Chrysler Group is up 40 percent, with the sales of Chrysler branded cars up a whopping 114 percent. GM did beat expectations by registering a small 1.1 percent gain on 209,306 units sold in February. Analysts had expected a drop of GM sales by several percent.
Ford came in slightly better than expectations by posting a 14 percent increase in February U.S. sales on 179,119 vehicles sold. The analysts had expected 12.7 percent (averaged.)
GM’s hide and honor were saved by a very strong overall market. GM thinks that 1.1 million light vehicles changed hands in February, the consensus prediction of Kelley, TrueCar and Edmunds was 1.08. GM and Chrysler expect a February SAAR of around 14.9 million.
Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Michelle Krebs commented on the early numbers:
“What a difference four years makes and a change in product lines make for General Motors and Ford. In 2008, when gas prices spiked, GM did not have competitive small fuel-efficient cars, but with today’s rising gas prices, GM sales of the fuel-efficient Chevrolet Sonic and Chevrolet Cruze are soaring, carrying the brand and the company. At Ford, the revised Focus has taken off with a triple-digit increase over a year ago for its best year in more than a decade.”
Not just sales rose, transaction prices rose also, while incentives dropped slightly. TrueCar says that the average new car did cost $30,605 when it left the lot in February, up 6.8 percent from a year before. People paid 8.9 percent more for their Hyundai than in February last year. Average incentives are $2,468, or 8.1 percent of the transaction price, down 0.9 percent from February 2011. Jesse Toprak, VP of Market Intelligence for TrueCar.com says:
“With gas prices rising, more than one-fifth of all cars sold in February will be subcompact or compact cars, yet transaction prices continue to rise as consumers are looking for highly-equipped vehicles.”
We will report on February sales throughout the day.