March 21, 2006

American new vehicle sales down in first half of March

Westlake Village, California – American new-vehicle retail sales were down thirteen percent in the first twelve days of March when compared to a similar time period a year ago, according to the Power Information Network (PIN). Mid-month results are derived from actual retail transaction data collected by PIN and do not include fleet sales.

Full size cars were the only segment to experience a year-over-year sales increase (up 6% when compared to a year ago). In contrast, all three light truck segments — SUVs, pickups and vans — had double-digit sales declines and lost market share.

With regard to share of the retail new-vehicle market, GM led the industry with 21.3 percent in early March, (down from 23% a year ago). Toyota followed with 16.8 percent of the retail new-vehicle market, (up from 16.0%) and Ford declined to 16.3 percent, (down from 17.6% a year ago). Honda captured 11.6 percent of all retail transactions in early March, (up from 10% versus a year ago) and Nissan increased to 8.1 percent, (up from 8.0%). BMW also gained retail share, while Hyundai experienced a slight decline.

The industry continues to move away from incentives, with total customer cash incentives (including subvented interest rates) down 23 percent year-over-year. The percentage of transactions with a cash rebate was also down by 3 percent in early March. However, this trend is not likely to continue for the remainder of the month as General Motors recently launched a new “March Madness” incentive program.

PIN’s automotive solutions are based on the collection and analysis of daily new- and used-vehicle retail transaction information from more than 10,000 automotive dealership franchises in North America.

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