AGOURA HILLS, Calif. (March 22, 2002)—Stronger than expected first-quarter sales, coupled with continuing aggressive incentives by auto makers, are prompting J.D. Power-LMC Automotive Services to revise its Canadian 2002 new light-vehicle sales forecast to near-record levels.
J.D. Power-LCM Automotive Services is boosting its Canadian light-vehicle sales forecast from 1.48 million units to 1.56 million units in 2002, just shy of 2001's record performance.
“The economy is showing signs of picking up, and auto makers keep extending the use of rebates and incentives, which we believe will result in a healthier-than-anticipated automotive market,” said Dr. Robert Schnorbus, chief economist at J.D. Power and Associates. “We expect first-quarter sales to be the lowest of the year, but we have been pleasantly surprised by the numbers.”
The Canadian automotive market has been on an upward trend since mid-1996 and reached a new record of 1.57 million units in 2001, J.D. Power said.
“As long as auto makers are committed to (incentive-laden) sales and the economy is in a position to cooperate, we see sales following a higher sales pattern than expected at the beginning of the year,” Mr. Schnorbus said.
New light-vehicle sales in January reached levels in excess of a 1.7 million seasonally adjusted annualized rate, J.D. Power said, and February's selling rate was 1.69 million units. J.D. Power LMC, while anticipating some moderation, still expects robust sales in March.
Sport-utility vehicles continue to gain market share in Canada, increasing from 13 percent of the market in 2001 to 17 percent by year end, J.D. Power said. Much of the SUV segment's gain is at the expense of mini-vans and mid-size cars, both expected to drop a percentage point of market share in 2001 to 15 and 18 percent, respectively, Power said.
The luxury vehicle segment is also showing some moderate improvement in market share, increasing from 3.9 percent in 2001 to 4.2 percent by year-end.