Pent-up consumer demand and greater access to credit are among the factors fueling vehicle sales these days.
NAFCU Staff Economist Curt Long offered that analysis in the Macro Data Flash report on vehicle sales in March.
“Many consumers are trading in their older, gas-guzzling vehicles for more fuel-efficient models. The share of subprime auto loans has been picking up steam lately,” Long wrote.
Vehicle sales came off a four-year high in March but still managed to maintain a healthy level, according to the report.
Part of February’s surge was due to favorable seasonal adjustments; on an unadjusted basis, sales increased in the month of March, NAFCU said.
Fleet sales are on also on the rise, with healthy corporate profits providing a stimulus, the report noted.
“With the employment market on the mend and loosening lending standards, vehicle sales are expected to remain near their current level throughout 2012,” Long said.
According to NAFCU, five of the six biggest automakers reported increases in their year-over-year sales numbers. Chrysler reported the strongest gain in sales at 34%, followed by Toyota (15.4%), Nissan (12.5%), General Motors (11.8%), and Ford (5%). Honda reported a year-over-year sales decline of 5%, the data showed.