June 20, 2002

U.S. car sales heat up in June

Westlake Village, California – Sales of U.S. passenger vehicles through the second week in June are hitting a red-hot pace, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

Total new light-vehicle sales in June are expected to reach 1.58 million.

J.D. Power and Associates projects a 17 million-unit seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) – considerably better than May’s 15.6 million SAAR-based on Power Information Network (PIN) retail sales data from the first two weeks of the month. Light-vehicle sales in June 2001 came in at a 17.2 million SAAR.

The key to June’s sales rebound is largely the result of an improvement over last month’s performance in retail sales.

“We saw a slight drop in sales last month, which we anticipated would happen when the automakers started to cut back on incentives,” said Dr. Robert Schnorbus, chief economist at J.D. Power and Associates. “We expected sales would improve this month, with General Motors and others responding to May’s slump with a return to more aggressive inventive programs. Still, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by June’s strong performance thus far.”

J.D. Power and Associates is holding its 2002 calendar-year forecast at 16.5 million units.

“Through May, sales have averaged a 16.5 million-unit SAAR, right in line with our forecast,” Schnorbus said.

At the segment level, SUVs, luxury cars and compact cars continue to experience strong sales, showing the greatest gains compared with a year ago. Sports, midsize and full-size cars continue to struggle.

Asian manufacturers are showing the largest year-over-year gains this month, with Europeans experiencing modest gains. As has been the case each month this year, Big Three sales averages are down from year-ago levels.

J.D. Power and Associates’ sales forecasts are derived from a joint effort between its Global Forecasting Department and Power Information Network (PIN), a division of J.D. Power and Associates that gathers new-vehicle retail transaction data from more than 5,300 participating auto franchises in 25 U.S. markets.

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