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Demand Continues to Translate Into Used-Car Sales in March, Says Edmunds.com

March 27, 2009

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — This month’s new vehicle sales (including fleet sales) are expected to be 774,000 units, a 42.7 percent decrease from March 2008 and a 12.7 percent increase from February 2009, according to Edmunds.com.

“If sales continue at this pace all year, we’re looking at a SAAR of only 8.9 million, which is slightly more than half of 2007 sales,” observed Edmunds.com CEO Jeremy Anwyl. “However, this dire report clouds the more encouraging news that underlying demand for new cars continues to climb from October lows. The conundrum for automakers is that currently almost a quarter of the demand is being met with the sale of a used vehicle.”

Edmunds.com recently reported that more than 20 percent of car shoppers who researched new vehicles actually bought a used vehicle. The company predicts that the trend accelerated in March.

“No automaker can sustain itself if the new car market doesn’t open up soon,” commented Michelle Krebs, senior editor of Edmunds’ AutoObserver.com. “It’s time for legislators to do something material, such as introduce scrappage laws, offer tax credits or temporarily lift sales tax, or at least increase the existing tax deductions on car loans.”

March 2009 had 25 selling days, one less than last March 2008. When adjusted for this difference, sales decreased 40.4 percent from March 2008. (The chart below sets forth other unadjusted and adjusted comparisons.)

Change from March 2008 (Adjusted for less selling days)

Chrysler -43 .8%

Ford -47 .8%

GM -47 .6%

Honda -40 .3%

Hyundai -15 .6%

Nissan -40 .8%

Toyota -37 .2%

Industry Total -40 .4%

Change from March 2008 (Unadjusted for less selling days)

Chrysler -46 .0%

Ford -49 .8%

GM -49 .6%

Honda -42 .6%

Hyundai -18 .9%

Nissan -43 .0%

Toyota -39 .6%

Industry Total -42 .7%

“This is a disappointing way to kick off the typically robust spring selling season,” remarked Jesse Toprak, executive director of industry analysis for Edmunds.com.

“Generally the industry gets about a 20 percent boost from February to March, but this year, month-over-month sales are up less than 13 percent.”

The combined monthly U.S. market share for Chrysler, Ford and General Motors (GM) domestic nameplates is estimated to be 44.3 percent in March 2009, down from 49.5 percent in March 2008 and down from 44.7 percent in February 2009.

Edmunds.com predicts Chrysler will sell 89,000 units in March 2009, down 46.0 percent compared to March 2008 and up 7.1 percent from February 2009. This would result in a new car market share of 11.6 percent for Chrysler in March 2009, down from 12.3 percent in March 2008 and down from 12.2 percent in February 2009.

Edmunds.com predicts Ford will sell 112,000 units in March 2009, down 49.8 percent compared to March 2008 and up 14.4 percent from February 2009. This would result in a new car market share of 14.4 percent of new car sales in March 2009 for Ford, down from 16.4 percent in March 2008 and up from 14.2 percent in February 2009.

Edmunds.com predicts GM will sell 142,000 units in March 2009, down 49.6 percent compared to March 2008 and up 12.4 percent from February 2009. GM’s market share is expected to be 18.3 percent of new vehicle sales in March 2009, down from 20.8 percent in March 2008 and down slightly from 18.4 percent in February 2009.

Edmunds.com predicts Hyundai will sell 55,000 units in March 2009, down 18.9 percent from March 2008 and up 4.2 percent from February 2009. Hyundai’s market share is expected to be 7.1 percent in March 2009, up from 5.0 percent in March 2008 and down from 7.7 percent in February 2009.

Edmunds.com predicts Honda will sell 79,000 units in March 2009, down 42.6 percent from March 2008 and up 11.3 percent from February 2009. Honda’s market share is expected to be 10.3 percent in March 2009, unchanged from March 2008 and down slightly from 10.4 percent in February 2009.

Edmunds.com predicts Nissan will sell 61,000 units in March 2009, down 43.0 percent from March 2008 and up 12.3 percent from February 2009. Nissan’s market share is expected to be 7.9 percent in March 2009, flat from 7.9 percent in March 2008 and flat from 7.9 percent in February 2009.

Edmunds.com predicts Toyota will sell 131,000 units in March 2009, down 39.6 percent from March 2008 and up 20.0 percent from February 2009. Toyota’s market share is expected to be 17.0 percent in March 2009, up from 16.1 percent in March 2008 and up from 15.9 percent in February 2009.

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