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Edmunds Forecasts Auto Sales Increase in March, Flat First Quarter

Automakers will sell 1,609,846 new cars and trucks in March, according to this month's sales forecast from Edmunds. That number represents a 21 percent increase in sales from last month and a 2 percent bump from March 2016. Edmunds analysts forecast total sales of 4,076,463 in the first quarter of 2017, essentially flat compared with Q1 of 2016.

In addition, Edmunds estimates that 3.6 million used vehicles will be sold in March, compared to 3.4 million in February.

"If you only look at the sales numbers, it could be tempting to say that the industry is just as strong as it was a year ago," said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds executive director of industry analysis. "But there are several areas of concern this year lurking just below the surface. Inventories have reached levels not seen in more than a decade, and incentives are rising. We’re also seeing an increase in loan terms and indications of a rise in subprime lending, which demonstrate sales aren't coming as easily as they used to."

Edmunds forecasts that the automakers with the largest year-over-year sales increases this month will be General Motors and Volkswagen/Audi. GM will realize an increase of 9.6 percent (276,294 vehicles sold compared to 252,128 in March 2016), while VW/Audi will see a jump of 4.3 percent (sales of 47,251 versus 45,306 at this time last year).

The manufacturers that will experience decreases in sales are expected to be Ford, which will see a drop of 8.2 percent (232,418 vehicles sold this month compared to 253,064 in March 2016), and Hyundai/Kia, with a 2.8 percent sales decline (129,820 vehicles sold in March 2017, down from 133,589 at this time last year).

More insight into recent auto industry trends can be found in the Edmunds Industry Center.

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