J.D. Power lowers US auto sales forecast


BusinessWeek reports J.D. Power and Associates cut its forecast for light-vehicle sales in the U.S. on Wednesday, citing the weak economy. J.D. Power now expects new light-vehicle sales in 2008 to fall 12% to 14.2 million units from 16.1 million units the previous year. Earlier in the year, the company said it expected new light-vehicle sales to fall to 14.95 million units for the year. Light vehicles include passenger cars, SUVs and pickup trucks, as opposed to larger, commercial vehicles.

J.D. Power blamed the decrease on the overall weaker economy, the credit crisis, record-high gas prices and a reduction in the daily rental fleet market.

Fleet sales are expected to decline 21% to 2.6 million units, J.D. Power said, while retail sales should drop 10% to 11.6 million units.

The research company said although small car sales are rising, the growth has not been enough to offset the sharp decline in demand for larger vehicles such as pickups and sport utility vehicles. From January to June, sales among smaller cars rose 28% from a year ago, but sales for large pickups and SUVs dropped 26% during the same period, J.D. Power said.

The company said it expects sales to improve to 14.3 million units in 2009.