March U.S. auto sales are expected to approach a record for the month, and account for the first year-over-year increase in monthly sales so far in 2017. New-vehicle sales in March should top 1.6 million, the highest for the month of March since 2000. The forecast is based on online auto shopping behavior through the first part of March. Automakers in the U.S. market are scheduled to announce March and first-quarter sales on Monday, April 3. Forecasters said the March increase should mean that U.S. auto sales for the first quarter would be about even with the first quarter of 2016.
February 2017 sales were about 1.3 million, down 1.1 percent from a year ago. January sales were about 1.1 million cars and trucks, down 1.9 percent. A strong trend towards trucks and away from cars has also continued this year. The catchall “light-truck” category includes pickup trucks, sport-utilities, minivans and crossovers – that is, carlike trucks or truck-like cars, depending on your definition. In 2016, truck sales gained 7 percent while car sales fell 9 percent.
Year to date through February 2017, U.S. light-truck sales were again up about 7 percent, while cars were down even more, about 13 percent. Trucks accounted for about 64 percent of U.S. sales volume after two months. Analysts say light-truck share of total sales in March should top 60 percent for the ninth consecutive month.