US: forecasts put February deliveries up despite weather and West Coast port disruptions image

The severe temperature drops that affected New England and important automotive hubs the Southeast, such as Atlanta and Charlotte, seem to have little impact on February’s car sales, according to analysts.

The automakers continue to take full advantage of the stronger residual values for their cars and offer increased incentives for the lease deals to buyers. Lease contracts have surpassed 27.4% of all retail sales through the first 11 selling days in February – reaching a record level and a recent study revealing the highest level of capital sent towards automotive financing. “The industry had a great start to 2015 in January, and that sales momentum continues in February with exceptional growth in retail sales,” commented John Humphrey, senior vice president of the global automotive practice at J.D. Power. For the fifth straight month forecasters say the compact SUV segment is claiming the lead for retail deliveries – commending 15.2% of the market so far in February. The one segment that took a nosedive continues to be the midsize passenger car category, now sliding into the fourth position after the compact SUV, compact car and midsize SUV segments.

“Given this month’s robust demand, the industry remains on track to hit TrueCar’s 17 million-unit projection for the 2015,” added Eric Lyman, vice president of industry insights for TrueCar. Humphrey believes total new light-vehicle sales this month could reach 1.3 million vehicles, surging 9 percent over the same period in 2014. They could also match the highest figure on record for the month, tallied back in February 2002. Fleet volume deliveries, reaching around 20 percent of the overall market, could tally 264,000 units at the end of the month.