J.D. Power and LMC Automotive Report: New-Vehicle Selling Rate in March Keeps Pace with Strong Year-to-Date Rate

Thu Mar 21, 2013 9:00am EDT

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WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.,  March 21, 2013  /PRNewswire/ --New-vehicle
salesremain strong in March, as both the light-vehicle retail selling rate and
the total light-vehicle rate are consistent with February's performance at 12.1
million units and 15.3 million units, respectively, according to a monthly sales
forecast developed by J.D. Power and Associates' Power Information Network® 
(PIN) and LMC Automotive.

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Retail Light-Vehicle Sales
March new-vehicle retail sales are expected to come in at 1,158,000 vehicles,
which represent a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of 12.1 million
units, with volume approaching a double-digit increase from  March 2012. Retail
transactions are the most accurate measurement of true underlying consumer
demand for new vehicles.

The average new-vehicle customer-facing retail transaction price  ($28,504)  is
up 3 percent from  March 2012. Leases account for 23.1 percent of new-vehicle
retail transactions in  March 2013, up from 20.0 percent in  March 2012.  

In addition, the percentage of retail sales with a 72-month or longer loan is at
record levels, reaching 32.1 percent in  March 2013, an increase from 30.4
percent in  March 2012.  

"While longer loan terms have traditionally been a cause for concern to the
industry due to the risk of purchase cycle extension, it is not necessarily as
daunting as it may seem." said  John Humphrey, senior vice president of the
global automotive practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "The longer loans are
being offset by more leasing and the low interest environment, which means that
consumers are able to put more of their monthly payment towards their loan
principal rather than interest fees."

Humphrey also notes that strong used-car values mean that consumers have more
equity in their trades and can finance lower amounts. In addition, consumers who
may have been shut out of the market in recent years are finding that a longer
loan makes buying a new vehicle affordable.

Total Light-Vehicle Sales
Total light-vehicle sales in  March 2013  are projected to reach 1,465,100
units, an 8 percent increase from  March 2012, with a selling rate that is
consistent with the expected performance for the year. Fleet share is expected
to hold at 21 percent.

 J.D. Power and LMC Automotive U.S. Sales and SAAR Comparisons                                      
                        March 20131                    February 2013          March 2012          
 New-Vehicle Retail     1,158,000 units2               928,130 units          1,093,601 units     
 
Sales                 
(10% higher than March 2012)                                             
 Total Vehicle Sales    1,465,100 units                1,190,707 units        1,402,503 units     
                        
(8% higher than March 2012)                                              
 Retail SAAR            12.1 million units             12.1 million units     11.4 million units  
 Total SAAR             15.3 million units             15.3 million units     14.1 million units  


 1Figures cited for March 2013 are forecasted based on the first 14 selling days of the month. 
 2The percentage change is adjusted based on the number of selling days in the month (27 days in March 2013 vs. 28 days in March 2012). 


Sales Outlook  
The outlook for 2013 remains strong and consistent with the pace expected to be
set in the first quarter. LMC Automotive is holding its 2013 U.S. forecast for
total light-vehicle sales at 15.3 million units and the retail light-vehicle
forecast at 12.5 million units.  

"Building on the current performance, we expect the economic environment to
improve throughout 2013, as the likelihood of a dark cloud slowing the recovery
pace diminishes," said  Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at
LMC Automotive. "Consumers do not appear phased by headwinds from  Washington,
as growth in auto sales are outperforming earlier expectations."

North American Production

Vehicle production in  North America  is up three percent through  February
2013, compared with the same period in 2012. Production of models in the compact
segment is outpacing the total market, up seven percent thus far in 2013.
Production of vehicles in the midsize and large segments has increased 1 percent
and likely will hold in a slower growth position as General Motors readies the
ramp-up of its redesigned large pickups. Production of compact cars and compact
premium CUVs is up 15 percent in the first two months of 2013, driven by the
addition of the Dodge Dart, Nissan Leaf and the redesigned Acura RDX.

Vehicle inventory levels in early March increase to a 64-day supply, compared
with 74 days in February. Overall, there are nearly 3.2 million units currently
available on dealer lots or in transit-an increase of approximately 600,000
units from  March 2012. Both car and truck inventories have dropped
approximately 10 days from last month. Cars began March with a 61-day supply and
trucks with a 68-day supply.

LMC Automotive's forecast for North American production remains at 15.9 million
units for 2013, an increase of three percent from 2012.  

"While there is a significant amount of activity below the topline production in
2013-from more than 50 new-model ramp-ups to reduced exports to Europe-the
underlying trend remains positive and on target for 2013 to improve from 2012,"
said Schuster.

About J.D. Power and Associates
Headquartered in  Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a
global marketing information services company providing forecasting, performance
improvement, social media and customer satisfaction insights and solutions. The
company's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from
millions of consumers annually. For more information on car reviews and ratings,
car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit 
JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill
Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies
The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE: MHP), a financial intelligence and education
company, signed an agreement to sell its McGraw-Hill Education business to
investment funds affiliated with Apollo Global Management, LLC in  November
2012. Following the sale closing, expected in early 2013, the Company will be
renamed McGraw Hill Financial (subject to shareholder approval) and will be a
powerhouse in benchmarks, content and analytics for the global capital and
commodity markets. The Company's leading brands will include: Standard & Poor's,
S&P Capital IQ, S&P Dow Jones Indices, Platts, Crisil, J.D. Power and
Associates, McGraw-Hill Construction and Aviation Week. The Company will have
approximately 17,000 employees in more than 30 countries.  Additional
information is available at  www.mcgraw-hill.com.  


About  LMC Automotive
LMC Automotive, formerly J.D. Power Automotive Forecasting, is the premier
supplier of automotive forecasts and intelligence to an extensive client base of
automotive manufacturer, component supplier, logistics and distribution
companies, as well as financial and government institutions around the world.
LMC's global forecasting services encompass automotive sales, production and
powertrain expertise, as well as advisory capability. LMC Automotive has offices
in  the United States, the UK,  Germany,  China  and  Thailand  and is part of
the  Oxford, UK-based LMC group, the global leader in economic and business
consultancy for the agribusiness sector.  For more information please visit 
www.lmc-auto.com.

Media Relations Contacts
John Tews;  Troy, Mich.; (248) 680-6218;  media.relations@jdpa.com
Emmie Littlejohn; LMC Automotive;  Troy, Mich.; (248)
817-2100;elittlejohn@lmc-auto.com

No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the information in this
release without the express prior written consent of J.D. Power and Associates
or LMC Automotive.  www.jdpower.com/corporate   www.lmc-auto.com

SOURCE  J.D. Power and Associates

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