July Auto Sales Strong Despite Economic Jitters

From The LA Times
The economic news remains mixed but that hasn’t slowed car buyers down this month. With another weekend to go, industry analysts say sales remain comparatively strong and it is consumers who are fueling the industry. It’s not the roaring market of a decade ago, but it is healthy by post-recession standards.
Market-research firm J.D. Power & Associates estimates that retail sales of new vehicles will reach about 969,200 this month. Although that’s a slight dip from June, it’s still an 18 percent gain from a year earlier.
“Retail sales got off to a fast start in July, and while they’ve slowed down a bit as the month has progressed, through the first 16 selling days, they’re still up 15.1 percent, compared to July 2011,” said John Humphrey, senior vice president of global automotive operations at J.D. Power.
“The positive growth has continued to build, as July is looking strong across most vehicle segments, as well as for many of the major manufacturers.”
Total vehicle sales will reach almost 1.2 million this month, July, which includes what is sold to car-rental companies, commercial customers and government agencies. That equates to a seasonally adjusted annual sales pace of about 14.1 million.
Auto-information company Kelley Blue Book is forecasting new-vehicle sales to hit a 14-million seasonally adjusted annual rate this month.
“Midsize cars remain the top-selling segment in July. The redesigned Toyota Camry has been a favorite among consumers since launching earlier this year, and we expect the redesigned 2013 Nissan Altima to add further fuel to the fire this month,” said Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst of automotive insights for Kelley Blue Book.
Midsize cars, or family sedans, look as if they will account for about 19 percent of all sales, making the category the largest segment of the industry. Compact cars were second at a little more than 13 percent, Gutierrez said.