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TMCNet:  New-Car Sales Expected To Stay On Course Despite Expired Payroll Tax Holiday

[February 26, 2013]

New-Car Sales Expected To Stay On Course Despite Expired Payroll Tax Holiday

IRVINE, Calif., Feb. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- For the month of February 2013, analysts predict new-car sales will maintain the momentum from the previous three months and hit 15.3 million seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), a 3.4 percent year-over-year improvement, according to Kelley Blue Book www.kbb.com, the leading provider of new and used car information. Although shy of the 14 percent annual gain the auto industry experienced in January, sales should improve more than 7 percent after adjusting for the number of selling days in February.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20121108/LA08161LOGO) "Similar to previous months, consumers will be lured to dealer showrooms by low finance rates, affordable lease payments, and most importantly, new and compelling product," said Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst of automotive insights for Kelley Blue Book. "As of February 1, approximately 80 percent of new vehicles available for sale were model-year 2013, so consumers should have no problem locating a newly redesigned 2013 Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima or Chevrolet Malibu." Although sales are expected to maintain a steady course in February, a recent Quick Poll among in-market car shoppers conducted by Kelley Blue Book's Market Intelligence team indicates that many consumers are beginning to feel the pinch from the expiration of the 2 percent payroll tax holiday. When asked if the increase in the payroll tax impacted their new-vehicle purchase timeline, 39 percent indicated that they planned to delay their purchase, 28 percent responded that the tax increase didn't impact their purchase timeline in any way, while 27 percent indicated that they would reduce the amount they planned to spend on their next purchase. Although Kelley Blue Book analysts have yet to detect a measurable slowdown in new-vehicle sales, they will keep an eye on the data in the weeks to come.

Manufacturers to Have Moderate Sales Gains in February With sales expected to improve only 3 percent in February, gains for most manufacturers are expected to remain relatively modest overall. Volkswagen is expected to post the best year-over-year improvement, thanks to strong sales from the Jetta and Passat. Toyota is expected to improve 7.8 percent in February, led by sales of the Camry, Corolla and Prius.

"With gas prices now approaching $3.75 per gallon nationally, Kelley Blue Book anticipates strong demand for fuel-efficient vehicles in February," said Gutierrez. "Toyota's focus on fuel efficiency across its entire model lineup should help the brand's sales performance, both in February and in the months to come." Kelley Blue Book: Volkswagen and Toyota to Lead Modest Year-Over-Year Gains Sales Volume Market Share Manufacturer Feb-13 Feb-12 YOY% Feb-13 Feb-12 YOY General Motors 218,000 209,306 4.2% 18.4% 18.2% 0.2% Ford Motor Company 192,000 178,644 7.5% 16.2% 15.5% 0.7% Toyota Motor Company 172,000 159,423 7.9% 14.5% 13.9% 0.6% Chrysler Group 139,000 133,521 4.1% 11.7% 11.6% 0.1% American Honda 110,000 110,157 -0.1% 9.3% 9.6% -0.3% Hyundai-Kia 94,000 96,189 -2.3% 7.9% 8.4% -0.5% Nissan North America 102,000 106,731 -4.4% 8.6% 9.3% -0.7% Volkswagen 44,500 39,234 13.4% 3.7% 3.4% 0.3% Total* 1,188,000 1,149,432 3.4% - - - *Includes brands not shown Source: Kelley Blue Book Automotive Insights and historical data pulled from OEM sales announcements Pickup Trucks to Lead Gains in February Full-size pickup truck sales should be especially strong this month, due to generous cash rebates and ample inventory for all segment competitors. Consumers will find as much as $5,000 in cash rebates on the Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado and Ram pickups because of a more than 100 days supply of inventory for each. Shoppers looking for a Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra likely will find the most compelling offers as General Motors tries to liquidate remaining inventory in anticipation of the arrival of its next generation of pickups in the second quarter of this year. Further helping sales of pickup trucks has been the steady rise in housing starts. Sales of pickup trucks benefit from a strong housing market, so as the housing market continues to improve, Kelley Blue Book expects sales of pickup trucks to follow suit.

Kelley Blue Book: Cash Rebates to Help Drive Sales of Pickups Sales Volume Market Share Segment Feb-13 Feb-12 YOY% Feb-13 Feb-12 YOY Mid-Size Car 213,000 210,282 1.3% 18.0% 18.3% -0.3% Compact Car 185,000 178,390 3.7% 15.6% 15.5% 0.1% Compact Crossover 135,000 127,905 5.5% 11.4% 11.1% 0.3% Full-Size Pickup Truck 136,000 123,319 10.3% 11.5% 10.7% 0.7% Subcompact Car 58,000 56,176 3.2% 4.9% 4.9% 0.0% Total* 1,188,000 1,149,432 3.4% - - - *Includes segments not shown Source: Kelley Blue Book Automotive Insights and historical data pulled from OEM sales announcements For more information and news from Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com, visit www.kbb.com/media/, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kelleybluebook (or @kelleybluebook), like our page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kbb, and get updates on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/+kbb/.

About Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com) Founded in 1926, Kelley Blue Book, The Trusted Resource®, is the only vehicle valuation and information source trusted and relied upon by both consumers and the industry. Each week the company provides the most market-reflective values in the industry on its top-rated website www.kbb.com, including its famous Blue Book® Trade-In and Suggested Retail Values and Fair Purchase Price, which reports what others are paying for new cars this week. The company also provides vehicle pricing and values through various products and services available to car dealers, auto manufacturers, finance and insurance companies as well as governmental agencies. KBB.com provides consumer pricing and information on cars for sale, minivans, pickup trucks, sedan, hybrids, electric cars, and SUVs. Kelley Blue Book Co., Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of AutoTrader Group.

SOURCE Kelley Blue Book http://rt.prnewswire.com/rt.gif NewsItemId=LA67011&Transmission_Id=201302261520PR_NEWS_USPR_____LA67011&DateId=20130226

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