Add one more bright-sider to the list of analysts declaring that the economy is in turnaround mode: automotive heavyweight J.D. Power & Associates estimates that auto sales in the U.S. may reach the 11.5 million mark in calendar year 2010 -- a 15% jump above the 10 million-unit estimate for 2009. The company's senior vice president, Gary Dilts, credits improvements in the credit market, financial market, and consumer confidence for the boost.
In fact, Dilts suggests that J.D. Power may even consider raising its estimate for the current calendar year, based on the sizable success of the Cash-for-Clunkers program. Most analysts believe that the federal program is on-track to generate at least 200,000 new auto sales during its run. (Of course, the length of that run is up in the air, depending on how long the program's $3 billion allotment lasts.) Dilts believes that August 2009 sales, considered on an annualized basis, should actually be flat when compared to August 2008 -- which is pretty good news, all things considered. As we've heard others in the industry say, flat is the new up.
Of course, J.D. Power's estimate of 11.5 million vehicles still falls well below sales figures for previous years, but then, none of us expect the auto market to turn around overnight. The important thing -- at least for optimists -- is that 2009 is looking more and more like the low watermark for U.S. auto sales.