U.S. auto sales are on pace for the best February since 2002, forecasters say, even as relentless snow slowed demand in the Northeast.
Automotive News reported that February is expected to mark the 12th consecutive month of year-over-year gains for the industry. Analysts said sales have been minimally affected by rising gasoline prices and a work stoppage at West Coast ports that could reduce March inventories of some vehicles imported from Asia.
TrueCar, LMC Automotive and Kelley Blue Book are forecasting this month’s sales to be between 8 and 9 percent higher than in February 2014. That would translate to a seasonally adjusted, annualized selling rate of 16.6 million to 16.7 million, which is roughly the same as January’s SAAR.
Automakers are scheduled to report February sales, which include transactions through Monday, March 2, on Tuesday, March 3.
“Strength at the start of 2015 is a key factor in keeping the industry on target to surpass annual vehicle sales of 17 million units for the first time since 2001,” Jeff Schuster, LMC’s senior vice president of forecasting, said in a statement.
“Given all the positive factors, including the economy, gas prices and fresh new products in showrooms, rain clouds are expected to stay out of the auto sales forecast for the duration of 2015.”
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