DETROIT -- Buoyed by the cash-for-clunkers program, U.S. auto sales will rise in August for the first time in 22 months, Ford Motor Co.s top sales analyst said.
Its assured, George Pipas told Automotive News today. He also said its likely that sales to individual customers will be up by at least 10 percent while declining to forecast fleet purchases.
The last month in which the U.S. auto industry posted a gain was October 2007, when sales rose 1.2 percent from year-earlier totals, according to the Automotive News Data Center. The seasonally adjusted annual sales rate for that month was 16 million.
Since then industry sales have plunged, appearing to bottom out during the first half of this year, with seasonally adjusted annual sales rates below 10 million. The initial surge resulting from the federal governments cash-for-clunkers incentive lifted the July sales rate to 11.1 million vehicles.
Pipas declined to predict a SAAR for August but said it will be the highest since at least the second quarter of 2008, when the monthly figures ranged from 13.1 million to 15.1 millon. In August 2008, it was 13.9 million.
While the pace of clunker sales has ebbed from late July and early August, interest remains high, Pipas said.
Even today the sales pace is very strong, he said. I can hardly believe our dealers are delivering the level of business theyre delivering under these [low] levels of inventories.