Westlake Village, California – New-vehicle sales are expected to be down slightly in August from last month, but are still above the selling rate from the first half of 2010 and remain relatively strong, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

Retail sales are expected to be 857,000 units in August, representing a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of 8.9 million units. This will be a slight decrease from July’s selling rate of 9.2 million units. The company said that retail transactions are the most accurate measurement of true underlying consumer demand for new vehicles.

“Sales in August are showing relative strength,” said Jeff Schuster, executive director of global forecasting. “While August retail sales are expected to be down 22 per cent from August 2009, if the distortion from 2009’s CARS (“Cash for Clunkers”) program is removed, August 2010 is actually up about 14 per cent on a selling day-adjusted basis, signalling continued improvement year over year.”

While total light-vehicle sales for August are expected to come in 15 per cent lower than August 2009, when the CARS program was in force, the August selling rate is up by 300,000 units compared with July when an increase in fleet activity is included. Fleet sales in August are expected to account for 17 per cent of total sales. This is down from the year-to-date level of 22 per cent, but significantly higher than in August 2009, when fleet sales only accounted for nine per cent of total sales.

As a result of the retail sales rate, J.D. Power has revised its 2010 forecast down slightly to 9.2 million units for retail sales, and 11.6 million units for total sales. The previous forecast was for 9.4 and 11.7 million units, respectively.

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