The 1.2 million jobs created the past six months, the best six-month job growth stretch since 2006, has sent unemployment to a three-year low, according to Labor Department figures. The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index held near the highest level in a year in March, the New York-based private research group said on March 27.
Analysts at Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank AG, Citigroup Inc. and TrueCar.com last month increased their estimates for full-year sales. The four companies increased 2012 estimates by an average of 550,000 vehicles to 14.5 million. IHS Automotive said today it estimates 14.2 million light-vehicle deliveries in the U.S. this year, up from a previous estimate of 14 million.
“We see the economy slowing over the next three to six months,” George Magliano, senior principal economist for IHS Automotive, said today at an auto forum in New York. “That is going to slow down the auto recovery, but it certainly isn’t going to derail it.”
GM sales were boosted by the Chevrolet Sonic subcompact that gets 33 miles (53 kilometers) per gallon in combined city and highway driving. The carmaker said today it delivered more than 100,000 vehicles, including the Sonic, that get 30 mpg or more in highway driving.
Toyota Motor Corp. probably increased total sales by 15%, according to seven analysts’ average estimate. The Toyota City, Japan-based automaker began U.S. deliveries of its 50 mpg Prius c hybrid subcompact last month. The Prius “family” of four models, including the original hatchback, exceeded 25,000 units in March, a record for the model line, Bob Carter, group vice president of U.S. sales, said yesterday in an e-mail.
Volkswagen AG’s namesake brand increased sales by 35% to 36,588, according to a company statement. The gain is matches the 35% gain estimated for combined total deliveries of its Volkswagen and Audi brands, the average of three estimates.
Honda Motor Co.’s sales may have increased 5.3%, the average of seven analysts’ estimates. Affiliates Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. may have combined to sell 18% more vehicles than a year earlier, the average of five analysts’ estimates.