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ORLANDO, Fla. – The new year is only two months old, but dealership representatives attending the 2006 NADA convention got a peak at the forecasts for new-car sales for the year from the association’s chief economist Paul Taylor. Taylor forecasts new-vehicle sales this year will hit 16.8 units. That’s down slightly from last year’s 16.95 million units because of rising transaction costs and the increase in finance rates. Citibank’s Affordability Index, he said, shows it now takes 26.2 weeks of salary to buy a new car, up from 23 weeks in 2004. Even so, Taylor said the new-vehicle market continues to be driven by fierce competition, rising fuel costs, incentive-based pricing, more licensed drivers, and increases in household assets.

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