New-Vehicle Retail Sale Pace Strong in March image

The outstanding sales in March will bring new vehicle retail sales to end the first quarter of 2012 particularly strong.

New-vehicle retail sales are about to reach 1, 085, 800 units in March, the highest monthly volume in more than two and one-half years.

“Each month of strong sales brings with it increased optimism that the pace of growth represents a true recovery for the sector,” said John Humphrey, senior vice president of global automotive operations at J.D. Power and Associates. “Barring any future shock related to geopolitical issues in the Gulf region and further upward pressure on the price of oil, we believe sales will continue on a solid pace for the balance of the year.”

In the first half of March sub-compact and compact cars accounted for approximately 23% of retail sales in the U.S., the highest level since the CARS program was implemented in 2009. Total light-vehicle sales in March are expected to come in at 1,372,400 units, which is a 6% increase from March 2011. In addition to the strong retail performance, fleet mix has been higher than normal for the first two months of the quarter, with 24% in the first two months this year.