New vehicle sales are forecast to go up by 8.1% in February in the US image

The US auto sales figures are keeping their strong momentum in February, as the demand for SUVs for the whole year is projected to outpace the car segment again.

New-vehicle sales in February 2016 are expected to increase 8.1 percent from a year ago in the United States, according to a monthly sales forecast made by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive, reaching 1,357,800 units of light-vehicle sold, up from 1,255,769 from a year ago. The seasonally adjusted annualized rate is projected to hit 17.7 million units this month, up 1.4 million units from 16.4 million a year ago and the highest rate since 2000, when it nearly touched 19 million. “The year-over-year sales growth projection for February is strong, but we need to keep in mind that it is aided by the fact that sales in the upper East Coast, Midwest and Texas were hampered by weather last February,” John Humphrey, senior vice president of the global automotive practice at J.D. Power, said. “To further put the February sales projection into context, while the retail SAAR of 13.9 million is unquestionably a high level of vehicle demand, it is the lowest monthly level since last June and well below the 15.3 million pace last September,” he added.

This month, the compact car segment posts the highest retail sales in the industry for the second consecutive month. Demand for compact cars is driven, in part, by product activity: high incentives that are offered on outgoing vehicles ahead of the launch of the redesigned vehicle attract the budget-conscious, while all-new or redesigned models revitalize interest in the segment. Unfortunately, J.D. Power said, the improvement in compact car sales was not enough to offset weakening demand for cars overall, with market share for cars at only 42 percent, the lowest level on record for the month of February.