Things are beginning to look more promising in the U.S. automotive market after an unexpected downturn heading into the normally robust spring-summer buying season, industry analysts say. But the pace of preliminary July sales still are lagging behind the more robust automotive recovery seen earlier in the year.
July is likely to come in well ahead of year-ago levels, and will be a definite improvement over May and June 2011. But the current sales rate – if averaged out over the full year, would fall just short of 12 million vehicles. Until the mid-spring downturn, the U.S. market seemed on track to top 13 million.
“Consumers continue to face obstacles in their willingness and ability to purchase a new vehicle,” cautioned Jeff Schuster, executive director of global forecasting at J.D. Power and Associates. “The ongoing debate regarding the debt ceiling and stagnant economy are creating added pressure on top of a generally weaker vehicle sales environment.”
Total light vehicle sales for July, Power predicts, will come in at just short of 1.1 million units, an 8% year-over-year gain. The retail portion of the market, at 913,000, will be up a similar amount. Adjusted for seasonal fluctuations, that would work out to an annual total of 11.9 million vehicles, at the current pace, or 9.8 million sold at retail. Earlier in the year, numbers approaching 13 million were readily being quoted.