"Rising Tide" of Buying Conditions Bolsters February Sales at 14.4 Million SAAR, Reports Edmunds.com


"Rising Tide" of Buying Conditions Bolsters February Sales at 14.4 Million SAAR, Reports Edmunds.com

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — February 24, 2012 — The automotive industry continues to move along at a brisk pace, with an estimated 1,095,059 new cars sold in February, forecasts Edmunds.com, the premier online resource for automotive information. This would result in a projected Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) of 14.4 million units and would be a 19.9 percent increase over January 2012 and a 5.9 percent increase over February 2011.

"There's a rising tide of excellent buying conditions right now that is really driving auto sales momentum," said Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell."Between surprisingly strong sales over Presidents Day weekend, optimistic economic news, and unseasonably mild weather conditions across the country, things seem to be breaking the right way for both car buyers and dealers."

Edmunds.com also continues to find evidence that the release of pent-up demand is having a direct impact on the auto sales recovery. With the exception of the Cash for Clunkers period in 2009, the average age of trade-in vehicles in January and February (6.1 and 6.2 years old, respectively) is the oldest on record, suggesting that consumers who were holding out through the recession are finally finding reasons to return to the automotive market.

SALES VOLUME FORECAST, BY MANUFACTURER
Sales Volume Feb-12 Forecast Feb-11 Jan-12 Change from Feb 2011 Change from Feb 2011 (adjusted)* Change from Jan 2012
GM 196,742 207,030 167,962 -5.0% -8.8% 17.1%
Ford 184,812 156,238 136,293 18.3% 13.6% 35.6%
Toyota 149,780 141,846 124,540 5.6% 1.4% 20.3%
Chrysler 125,990 95,102 101,150 32.5% 27.2% 24.6%
Honda 103,183 98,059 83,009 5.2% 1.0% 24.3%
Nissan 97,971 92,370 79,313 6.1% 1.8% 23.5%
Industry 1,095,059 993,009 912,954 10.3% 5.9% 19.9%
*NOTE: February 2012 had 25 sales days; February 2011 had 24

Edmunds.com estimates that retail SAAR will come in at 11.3 million vehicles in February, with fleet transactions accounting for 21 percent of total sales.

Of the Big 6 automakers, only General Motors is expected to show a year-over-year sales decrease this month. Edmunds.com predicts that GM sales will fall 8.8 percent year over year, despite a 17.1 percent gain over January of this year. GM will also suffer the biggest hit to year-over-year market share of the major automakers, dropping almost three percentage points from February of last year. GM's year-over-year decline is a direct result of its aggressive incentives push that pumped up sales in early-2011.

GM's domestic counterparts, however, are expected to make the biggest year-over-year gains in February. Chrysler and Ford sales will climb 27.2 percent and 13.6 percent, respectively, in February. The two Detroit automakers are the only Big 6 manufacturers whose sales growth is expected to outpace the industry average.

MARKET SHARE FORECAST, BY MANUFACTURER
Market Share Feb-12 Forecast Feb-11 Jan-12 Change from Feb 2011 Change from Jan 2012
GM 18.0% 20.8% 18.4% -2.9% -0.4%
Ford 16.9% 15.7% 14.9% 1.1% 1.9%
Toyota 13.7% 14.3% 13.6% -0.6% 0.0%
Chrysler 11.5% 9.6% 11.1% 1.9% 0.4%
Honda 9.4% 9.9% 9.1% -0.5% 0.3%
Nissan 8.9% 9.3% 8.7% -0.4% 0.3%

Japan's Big 3 automakers, meanwhile, are continuing their slow march back to pre-earthquake levels. Edmunds.com projects that February will be the second month in a row that all three major Japanese brands will report year-over-year sales gains, an event that has not been seen since prior to the supply shortages that arose last spring.

About Edmunds.com, Inc. (http://www.edmunds.com/help/about/index.html)

Edmunds.com, the premier online resource for automotive information, launched in 1995 as the first automotive information Web site. Its acclaimed mobile site, Android App and five-star iPhone and iPad apps make car pricing and other research tools available for car shoppers at dealerships and on the go. Its automotive enthusiast Web site, InsideLine.com, is the most-read car publication of its kind. Its highly regarded mobile site and iPhone app features the wireless Web's most comprehensive gallery of automotive photos and videos. Edmunds.com Inc. is headquartered in Santa Monica, California, and maintains a satellite office in suburban Detroit. Follow Edmunds.com on Twitter@edmunds and fan Edmunds.com on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/edmunds.

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