By on March 27, 2012

This coming Monday, new car sales for March will be announced. Forecasters increasingly are of the opinion that March will look like carmageddon never happened. Real-time data equipped TrueCar has released its opinions. Here are the highlights:

  • For March 2012, new light vehicle sales in the U.S. (including fleet) is expected to be 1,416,703 units, up 13.7 percent from March.
  • The March 2012 forecast translates into a Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Rate (SAAR) of 14.5 million new car sales, up from 13.1 million in March 2011 and down from 15.1 million in February 2012.
  • The industry average incentive spending per unit will be approximately $2,440 in March 2012, which represents a decrease of 1.5 percent from February 2012 and decrease of 1.7 percent from March 2011.

Says Jesse Toprak, Vice President of Market Intelligence for TrueCar:

“We are looking at a record-breaking month for many manufacturers in March with Hyundai, Nissan and Volkswagen expected to have their highest unit sales ever in the U.S.We also forecast that Chrysler, Ford, GM, Honda and Toyota will have an extremely strong month, with some of the highest unit sales in years. Due to stronger than expected recovery, we’ve increased our sales forecast another 3.6 percent, from 14.0 million unit sales to 14.5 million unit sales in 2012.“


TrueCar Forecasts for the top eight manufacturers for March 2012

Manufacturer March Forecast YoY
Chrysler 160,256 31.20%
Ford 215,182 1.40%
GM 249,887 20.90%
Honda 145,594 8.90%
Hyundai/Kia 126,351 19.10%
Nissan 129,188 6.60%
Toyota 195,298 10.80%
Volkswagen 49,225 33.10%
Industry 1,416,703 13.70%

TrueCar Market Share Forecasts for March 2012

Manufacturer March Forecast Feb-12 Mar-11
Chrysler 11.30% 11.70% 9.80%
Ford 15.20% 15.50% 17.00%
GM 17.60% 18.20% 16.60%
Honda 10.30% 9.60% 10.70%
Hyundai/Kia 8.90% 8.40% 8.50%
Nissan 9.10% 9.30% 9.70%
Toyota 13.80% 13.90% 14.10%
Volkswagen 3.50% 3.40% 3.00%

TrueCar Incentive Spending Forecasts for March 2012

Manufacturer March ’12 MoM YoY
Chrysler $3,137 -1.80% 5.60%
Ford $2,726 -3.80% -2.80%
GM $3,144 0.90% -5.10%
Honda $2,122 -0.20% -8.10%
Hyundai/Kia $882 4.80% -30.60%
Nissan $3,115 -3.70% 28.00%
Toyota $1,704 5.20% -13.50%
Volkswagen $2,021 -2.70% 4.50%
Industry $2,440 -1.50% -1.70%

With 1.42 million cars for March, TrueCar is relatively conservative. Kelley forecasted 1.43 million. TrueCar’s colleagues at Edmunds forecast 1.44 million. Edmunds will supply an updated forecast on Thursday.

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10 Comments on “Forecasters Expect Extremely Strong March...”

  • avatar

    GM’s numbers are not impressive when you consider how weak their sales were last March. Incentives are still high and the inventory IIRC is 200,000 more than this time last year. They are going to be a lot of fire sales coming unless they somehow trim production to match demand.

    Whats with Nissan’s sudden increase in incentives by 28%. They are now on par with GM and Chrysler.

    • 0 avatar

      Maybe that’s due to they wanting to move soon to be discontinued product as soon as possible? Especially since the product is one of their biggest seller, the Altima. Might skew their overall number.

      • 0 avatar

        ^This. They’ve got five all-new models coming this year, starting with the Altima. After that, it’s the new Versa hatchback (to match the new Versa sedan launched earlier), a new Pathfinder, a redesigned Sentra (long overdue), and a new Rogue. Lots of product they want to get rid of before the new (and hopefully improved) models launch.

        I’m a fan of Nissan and have been following this. The Altima and Sentra were worst in need of a refresh out of their whole lineup, even though the Altima was still selling relatively well. The Sentra has been selling at deep discounts to anyone who cares to ask. I’ve known of a few base Sentras, which should theoretically be a mid-$15k car, going for low-$13k prices. The Pathfinder is getting a lot of flack from old-school Pathfinder lovers because it’s going unibody and ditching the old body-on-frame truck platform that has underpinned it from the beginning. We’ll see if it works out for them better than it has for Ford and the Explorer. The Rogue is something I’ve never been able to get excited about, so I hope they do something interesting there. Of all the new models, though, I’m most excited to see the new Versa hatch, which should look a lot like the international Tiida hatchback we’ve seen in photos from Asia here at TTAC. I’m predicting the frumpy sedans will become sales slugs if the hatch is better-looking, as has long been the case with the Versa.

  • avatar

    Toyota and Honda should show some really big YoY numbers starting next month for the next six months or so as they will be compared against last year earthquake/tsunami numbers.

    Although it happened in March 2011, it shouldn’t reflect in these numbers as inventory wasn’t adversely impacted until May. Anything on the six week boat ride from factory to dealer was already off the shore in March last year.

    We’ll see if GM really hits that 20.8% number.

    • 0 avatar

      Shouldn`t Toyota and Honda have been at least performing as well as the market in February and March. If these March figures are borne out at the end of the month then both companies have continued to lose market share even with good inventory levels, new models (Camry, Civic) and reasonable incentives (look at some of the ads on this site). For GM 17.60% is not a good market share but the number that counts is the 2012 market share calculated at the end of the year.

      Does Bertel have an explanation for these high numbers. I ask because he has questioned if “pent-up demands” existed. We now have a strong Q1 for 2012.

      • 0 avatar

        I’d have to dig into the numbers, but the bar would be high in March. There was discussion (although I don’t know if the sales numbers bore it out) of people going to Toyota/Honda dealers in the days after the earthquake snapping up models they were on the fence of buying, concerned they would never see a new Honda/Toyota ever ever again. If that holds any water and wasn’t just media hype (that comment NOT directed at TTAC but the hacks that pass at journalists in the modern world) then their March number bar is going to be very high.

      • 0 avatar

        In March 2011, the market grew by 17% (compared to March 2010). Yet Toyotas sales (including Scion and Lexus) declined by 6%.

        So no – March 2011 should not be a high bar for Toyota to beat, but the same could have been said for the first two months of this year. Yet Toyota also performed weaker than the market then…

  • avatar

    Does VW even belong on this list?

    There seems to be quite a gap between Hyundai at 8.5% market share, and VW at 3%. Are there other makers in between? I’m not sure where brands like Mazda, Subaru, etc. sit but I would think there must be someone between VW and Hyundai…

    • 0 avatar

      Looking at the market share numbers, there’s about 10% left to be split up between BMW-Mini-RR, Jaguar-Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Smart, Subaru, Volvo, etc…and that’s assuming that Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, and Porsche are included in VW’s total.

    • 0 avatar

      No, at least in 2012 so far there wasn’t. Mazda, Subaru and BMW are the closest followers, and they are all about .5 percent behind VW. And also notice that VW’s numbers don’t include Audi, which would put them about .8 percent higher.

      And since this is a “Top 8” list, VW does belong onto it. One could of course ask, why this is a Top 8 list, instead of Top 5, Top 10 or whatever. ;)

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