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Drew Dowdell

JD Powers thinks auto sales are leveling off.

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J.D. Power:
New-Vehicle Sales Decline Becomes Less Steep
via AutoRemarketing

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. — October's new-vehicle retail sales will likely show the first single-digit year-over-year decrease in 17 months, according to J.D. Power and Associates, which has projected the industry to retail 651,600 new units for the month.

This would be just a 6-percent dip from October 2008 and a 15.2-percent gain from September. The only time that retail sales haven't fallen double digits year-over-year since May 2008 was in August, when sales climbed 13 percent due to CARS, J.D. Power indicated.

Meanwhile, new-vehicle fleet sales are projected to fall 4 percent from a year ago, resulting in total new-car sales volume of 816,600, which represents a 6-percent yearly decrease and a 9.7-percent gain from September.

The resulting seasonally adjusted annual rate would be 10.3 million units, compared with 9.3 million in September and 10.5 million a year ago.

"While year-over-year comparisons benefit from a low selling base in October 2008, improvements in consumer confidence and credit are propelling the return to positive sales gains relative to last year," explained Gary Dilts, senior vice president of global automotive operations at J.D. Power.

"October's selling rate is expected to come in at 10.3 million units — nearly flat compared with 10.5 million units one year ago — which is an encouraging sign for the industry and in line with our expectations for the rest of the year," he continued.

Officials noted that most of the segment mix on the retail side has remained consistent, but pickup trucks' market share has grown to 14, compared with less than 12 percent in September.

They attributed this climb to strong marketing programs, steady gas prices and incentives.

Continuing on, J.D. Power said it is keeping its 2009 forecast for total sales at 10.3 million vehicles and its retail projections at 8.6 million units.

For 2010, analysts expect 9.5 million retail vehicles to be sold and 11.5 million vehicles as the total.

"As economic conditions improve, there's a renewed sense of optimism and momentum building in the industry," shared Jeff Schuster, executive director of global forecasting at J.D. Power.

"While 2009 has been a difficult year, this crisis will lead to innovation and efficiency gains, ultimately creating a healthier industry," he added. "Total sales in 2010 are expected to improve 12 percent from 2009, but given the right conditions, next year could be even stronger than currently predicted."

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