U.S. light-vehicle sales got off to a strong start in the first quarter, but the new-vehicle market showed signs of losing momentum by March as rising interest rates and transaction prices are putting pressure on what consumers can afford.
Supply constraints that have suppressed car and light truck availability for the last two years remain but are easing. Analysts say March sales should reflect an improvement from a year ago, but the pace has slowed since the start of this year, suggesting that economic headwinds and affordability concerns are forcing some buyers to the sidelines.
Most automakers are scheduled to report March or first-quarter U.S. sales results on Monday.
The seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate for March is forecast to come in between 13.8 million and 14.7 million vehicles. That would be an improvement from the 13.7 million rate in March 2022, according to Motor Intelligence, but well below the 15.2 million pace in February and 16.2 million in January.
S&P Global Mobility forecasts the March sales rate at 13.8 million. Cox Automotive projects a 14.1 million sales rate, while J.D. Power and LMC Automotive anticipate 14.4 million and TrueCar sees a sales pace of 14.7 million.