Car sales up 6.8% for best February SAAR since 2000

Car sales up 6.8% for best February SAAR since 2000

February sales rose 6.8 percent from a year ago, for the best seasonally adjusted annual rated February in 15 years, 17.4 million, thanks to continuing pent-up demand, low gas prices, easy credit, Presidents Day sales and the added bonus of a 2016 Leap Day. Strong incentives and increasing fleet sales played a role for some manufacturers. Light trucks once again outsold cars as gas prices kept falling.

NADA is sticking with its –robust” 2016 forecast of 17.7 million light vehicle sales, as LMC Automotive predicts 17.8 million.

–The U.S. economy continues to grow, and the equity markets have probably oversold concerns about China,” said NADA Chief Economist Steve Szakaly. –Wage growth also has been tracking higher, and low interest rates will continue this year.”

Added Jeff Schuster, LMCês senior vice president of forecasting, –Consumers seem to be shrugging off the volatility in the stock market and higher interest rates. Very low fuel prices and many new vehicles in showrooms should help drive another strong year for auto sales.”

Ford sales jumped 20 percent; 36 percent of its sales was to fleets. Fiat/Chrysler, up 12 percent, saw its 71st straight month of sales increases. General Motors, which cut back on fleets, slipped by 1.5 percent.

–Our strategy is simple: Grow profitable retail share while maintaining discipline with inventory levels and incentive spending, while reducing rental deliveries,” said Kurt McNeil, GMês US. vice president of sales operations.

Average transaction prices rose to $33,789. NADA predicts they will keep rising this year.

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