Memorial Day Weekend is usually a busy time for new car sales, but this year it’s icing on top of an already booming year for the U.S. auto industry, with some projecting 2013 as the biggest year in sales since 2002.
New-car sales will hit a 15.0 million seasonally-adjusted annual rate in May, which is an expected 6 percent year-over-year improvement, according to Kelley Blue Book.
New-vehicle sales to individual customers are on track to surpass 15 million this year. When all new-vehicle sales are counted in, the total could top 16 million for the first time this decade, LMC Automotive forecasts.
Sales of pickup trucks are helping drive the boom, in large part because of demand from the construction industry and a home-building rebound.
Full-size pickup trucks and compact crossovers will continue to drive the bulk of industry gains this month, with expected increases of 19.9 and 15.7 percent, respectively, said Kelley Blue Book.
“Growth in the truck segment has been driven by a jump in new-home construction, relatively affordable gas prices and high inventory levels,” said Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst of automotive insights for Kelley Blue Book.”Each of the three major full-size domestic pickup trucks is available with a nearly 100 days supply, which has resulted in $5,000 or more in cash rebates for the Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado and Ram.”
Small crossovers have also seen surging market share for years; the segment has doubled its market share since 2007 and continues to gain share aggressively. Small crossover sales have been particularly strong this year as a result of new redesigns and new introductions, such as the Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5.
Kelley Blue Book said it expects a strong surge in new-vehicle sales during the Memorial Day Weekend since manufacturers typically offer some of the most attractive incentives of the year. For example, Chevrolet is offering $500 in Memorial Day Cash, in addition to some of the already generous offers available on most popular models.