March sales fell 37%, but the drop was less than in February, and auto manufacturers cited other signs that their industry’s downturn may have bottomed out, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal.
March brought another major sales decline, of 37%, for car manufacturers, but companies expressed optimism, noting that the industry’s downturn may be near bottom, and recovery may be starting, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal.
Written by Neal E. Boudette and Matthew Dolan, the story says every major car maker suffered a sales decline of 36% or more, compared with a year ago. But the 857,735 vehicles sold was up from the 688,909 sold in February and is the highest total since September. February sales were down 47% from the prior year.
The annualized sales pace, a critical indicator, came in a 9.86 million vehicles, down dramatically from teh 16 million or more the industry typically sold just a few years ago. But this was up from February’s pace of 9.12 vehicles, the story says.
Toyota’s March sales were 18% ahead of its February number. GM and Chrysler both expressed cautious optimism, while a Toyota chief said the March improvement could be an early sign that optimism is returning to the auto market.
Sales to fleets and bigger incentives for consumers helped pump up March’s auto sales, the story says.
Car manufacturers cited a stabilizing of consumer confidence, an increase in housing starts and rising used car prices as evidence that their fortunes may rise in the coming months.
WSJ Online subscribers may read the full story here.