March 2010 Auto Sales Analysis

Attempting to put its recalls and unintended acceleration imbroglio into the rear-view mirror, Toyota called upon its deep reserves of cash, launching a bonanza of incentive spending in March which, naturally, obligated other carmakers to do the same. The subsidized leasing and zero-interest financing, combined with a hefty shot of fleet sales, juiced the market, driving new-car sales up 24% over the dismal March 2009 total. The March figures portend full-year new-car sales of 11.7 million, which is a lot better than last year, when industry watcher were speculating whether the year would end up below 10 million (it actually finished at 10.4 million). But step back a bit, and you realize that even 11.7 million is still a long way from the 16.8 million average annual sales the industry was enjoying in the decade ending in 2007.

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