March Car Sales To Cap Strong First Quarter | Edmunds

March Car Sales To Cap Strong First Quarter

SANTA MONICA, California — March car sales are poised to go out like a lion, according to an forecast.

This month is set to be one of the strongest months ever for the U.S. auto industry, fueled by consumer confidence, low gas prices and attractive deals.

"March auto sales show another month of positive year-over-year growth, rounding out a consistently strong first quarter for the industry," said Jessica Caldwell, director of industry analysis. "The sales we saw in these three months sets us up for another potentially record-breaking year, especially as we begin to approach the popular summer selling season."

The projected sales will be a 23.5 percent increase from February 2016 and a 7.3 percent increase from March 2015.

Honda, Nissan, Ford and Fiat-Chrysler are expected to show gains in market share this month. predicts market-share declines for GM, Hyundai/Kia, Toyota and Volkswagen.

February car sales showed an intriguing mix of winners, a trend that's likely to continue into March.

The 2016 Ford Explorer midsize SUV and 2016 Honda Civic compact sedan were among the favorites of car shoppers in February.

Other showroom winners include the 2016 Chevrolet Trax, Jeep Cherokee, Nissan Murano, Toyota RAV4 and Volkswagen Tiguan SUVs.

It is unclear whether the recent rise in gas prices will put the brakes on sales of trucks and SUVs.

The AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report on Monday pegged the average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline at $2.03, compared to $1.74 a month ago.

Despite the rise in gas prices, consumers are in an upbeat mood, according to the latest nationwide consumer-confidence survey by the University of Michigan.

"Consumers judged their financial prospects for the year ahead more favorably in the February 2016 survey than any other time since October 2006," University of Michigan Survey of Consumers said. "Overall, it would appear that consumers have accommodated slower economic growth as well as rising gas prices without an accompanying rise in uncertainty about their own personal financial situation."

Edmunds says: With shoppers crowding showrooms, this may be shaping up as a record-breaking year for car sales.

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