Auto sales may fall for the first time in 7 months this March due to higher gas prices and the earthquake in Japan. But while sales are expected to fall below February’s level, they are still forecast to be up from a year ago, with most car makers showing solid gains.
Results for vehicle sales due on Friday could show an annual run rate of 12.9 million, according to Bloomberg’s survey of analysts. That’s less than February’s seasonally adjusted rate of 13.4 million, according to Autodata Corp.
Bloomberg says the conflict in Libya is keeping gas price high, and consumer confidence is down. Uncertainty about Japan and the Middle East is preventing some consumers from making big ticket purchases.
Still a 12.9 million sales rate this month would be an increase from the 11.7 million rate for March last year. And all major car makers could see gains except Toyota, which is expected to slip by about 3.6 percent over a year ago when it was offering very large incentives.
Analysts are predicting double digit gains at GM, Ford, Honda and Nissan.
The Japanese earthquake may have caused a loss in production this month of almost 600,000 vehicles.