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March new-car sales on pace for best month since August 2007

March 26, 2013|By Ronald D. White
  • Among the cars leading the way in sales is the new Honda Accord, according to Kelley Blue Book.
Among the cars leading the way in sales is the new Honda Accord, according… (Honda )

Kelley Blue Book says that new car sales have been so strong in March that they are on pace to reach the highest monthly sales total in the U.S. in more than five years.

Officials of the auto valuation company said it was a positive sign of the nation's economic recovery on many fronts.

The expected sales total of 1,450,000 is set to be the highest monthly figure since August 2007, which Kelley Blue Book officials described as a typically strong pre-recession month.

Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst for the company, said in an interview that there were several reasons for the strong showing.

One is pent-up buyer demand, which isn't surprising given that the average age of the U.S. fleet is now 11 years, which is the oldest ever, Gutierrez said.

"Personal credit scores and credit availability have also improved," Gutierrez said. "And used car values for trade-ins are only a few percentage points below the all-time highs of May 2011."

He added that excellent financing packages were also widely available.

Volkswagen and Honda will lead the way with expected sales gains of 9.6% and 8.7%, respectively, the company's report said.

Honda's sales will be led by its all-new Accord, which is up 51% from last year, it said. The Accord is poised to challenge the Toyota Camry for the top spot in the ultra-competitive mid-size segment.

With attractive incentives still widely available, Kelley Blue Book is anticipating that sales of full-size pickup trucks will improve 14.9%, year-over-year, in March -- the best among all segments.

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