US auto sales up 27% in March, signalling possible recovery

01 April 2010 22:53  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--US auto sales rose 27% year over year in March, according to data released on Thursday, showing signs of recovery from the industry's trough of 2009 and a possible boon for the petrochemical industry.

March sales for the six largest US car sellers totalled 850,308 units, compared with 670,303 in March 2009.

With $2,700 (€1,998) worth of chemical products or chemical processing value used in every US-made vehicle, according to American Chemistry Council (ACC) estimates, increased auto sales translate into eventual chemical demand.

In March, Ford, Nissan and Toyota led the large year-over-year sales gains with 40-plus percentage point increases.

But an industry analyst cautioned any proclamations of a huge recovery.

"It's too early to wave the flag and say that the economy has turned the corner," said Jeremy Anwyl, CEO of automotive consumer group Edmunds.com.

"Incentives drove sales this month, but those were defensive moves in response to Toyota stepping up incentives and are unlikely to last, because inventories are simply not high enough to justify them in the long term."

Toyota's sales figures were robust despite the carmaker's safety recalls this year and a string of bad publicity in the US.

"What a difference a month makes for Toyota, whose sales climbed 80% since February thanks to generous incentives and more balanced headlines," explained Jessica Caldwell, director of industry analysis for Edmunds.com.

"At this point, Toyota seems to be making large strides in reinstating its good name and appealing to car shoppers."

Meanwhile, Chrysler struggled to emerge from lowly sales figures last year and was the only carmaker of the six largest to post negative figures year over year.

But the company was heralding the sales increase compared with February.

"Chrysler Group is pleased with the month-over-month and retail sales improvements, we believe it is an indicator of the company's health," said Fred Diaz, the company's lead sale executive. Chrysler filed for bankruptcy in April 2009.

"Last year at this time, the old company was buying market share with high incentives in an effort to stave off bankruptcy; this year consumers are purchasing our products for the quality, value and industry-leading features," he added.

The table below reflects March sales.


2010

2009



Total

Total

% change

Chrysler

92,623

101,001

-8

Ford

178,546

125,107

43

GM

188,546

156,380

21

Honda

108,262

88,379

22

Nissan

95,468

66,634

43

Toyota

186,863

132,802

41

Total

850,308

670,303

27

($1 = €0.74)

To discuss issues facing the chemical industry go to ICIS connect


By: Ryan Hickman
+1 713 525 2653



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