Westlake Village, California – The U.S. auto market remains weak, with increased fleet sales in June not strong enough to fully offset retail sales that were lower than expected, according to J.D. Power and Associates. Overall, June sales have declined from the total new-vehicle selling rate in May.

New vehicle retail sales in June are expected to be 768,000 units, representing a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of 8.6 million units. That is down from May’s selling rate of 8.9 million units, but up from 8.2 million in June 2009.

“With the improving economic environment, retail sales should be stronger than they currently are, but June marks the second consecutive month with a selling rate below nine million units,” said Jeff Schuster, executive director of global forecasting. “In spite of the more favourable conditions, it appears that consumers remain skittish and have yet to respond by buying vehicles at expected levels.”

Fleet sales in June are expected to offset some of the weakness in the retail market, with volume projected to total 203,000 units, an increase of 59 per cent from June 2009. Total light-vehicle sales for June, including fleet and retail, are expected to be 971,000 units, up 13 per cent from a year ago.

Given the continued weakness in the retail market, J.D. Power and Associates has decreased its retail sales forecast from 9.7 million units to 9.5 million units for 2010. The forecast for total sales remains at 11.8 million units.

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