Bianchi Honda Dealership in Erie, Penn.

Bianchi Honda Dealership in Erie, Penn.

October new-vehicle retail sales are expected to decline only 6% compared with one year ago--the first single-digit decline since May 2008, according to J.D. Power and Associates. This decline marks the most significant improvement in 17 months, excluding August 2009 when year-over-year sales were up 13% due to government’s cash-for-clunkers scheme.

October new-vehicle retail sales are expected to come in at 651,600 units, which represent a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of only 8.3 million units. When you throw in fleet sales, this number jumps to 816,600 units, which is only 6% down on levels from October 2008.

While most of the retail segment mix remains relatively unchanged from September, the share of pickup trucks increased to nearly 14% from less than 12% last month, driven mainly by strong marketing programs, incentives and stable fuel prices.

J.D. Power and Associates is maintaining its forecast for 2009 at 10.3 million units for total sales, with retail sales projected to come in at 8.6 million units. The 2010 forecast remains at 11.5 million units for total sales and 9.5 million units for retail sales.

Though we’re nowhere near the 17 million annual vehicle sales levels that we saw in the earlier part of the decade, the U.S. new vehicle retail market is showing some definite improvements and hopefully we only go up from here.

[J. D. Power and Associates]