Auto observers see February coming in strong for sales, as a general recovery continues apace and sustained pent-up demand drives consideration. J.D. Power & Associates predicts overall February sales will be around 931,100 vehicles.
"All signs of the industry's health are positive right now," said John Humphrey, the firm's SVP of the global automotive practice. "Average transaction prices are up, incentives are stable, leasing is at a healthy level and newly redesigned models continue to make an impact on the marketplace."
He said automakers are also making more from sales by keeping a rein on production, meaning they don't have to throw as much cash on the hood to drive demand. "This has led to new-vehicle transaction prices that are averaging nearly $1,000 more in February than the same period in 2012 while incentives have remained relatively flat year over year."
Jeff Schuster, SVP of forecasting at J.D. Power's LMC Automotive research division, said pent-up vehicle demand and a stable, recovering economy are helping drive the market. "An expected recovery in the housing market, and 50% more new-model launches combined with an increase in lease maturities should keep light-vehicle sales climbing throughout the year."
Auto sales network and research firm TrueCar.com sees sales increasing 5.7% from the month last year and up 16.5% from last month. The firm predicts incentive spend will go down 3.9% to $2,392 or 3.9% from last year, but that it will increase about 1.8% from last month.
Jesse Toprak, senior analyst for TrueCar said full-size trucks will also be a driver. “Pent-up demand for pick up trucks by small businesses will be a critical factor in this year's continued sales recovery.”
The firm predicts the domestics will all get a boost: Ford, a nearly 12% increase in sales this month versus the month last year; Chrysler, a 9.1% increase; and GM, a 5.6% increase. TrueCar predicts the biggest increase will be Volkswagen's -- up 14.1% versus last year. Rounding out the positives: Toyota up 6% and Honda up 2.3%. The firm sees negative numbers for Nissan (down 4.7%) and the Hyundai and Kia pair (down 6.9%).