U.S. auto sales in February were slightly brisker than expected as hefty incentives lured customers into dealerships late in the month despite cold and snowy weather, raising concerns about industry profitability.
The chilly temperatures were enough to pressure last month’s sales, which are expected to be up only slightly from the year-ago month, automakers said.
General Motors Co (GM.N) said it expected industrywide U.S. auto sales of 15.4 million vehicles in February on an annualized basis, matching a forecast of analysts polled by Reuters.
The frost on sales for January and February will thaw in March as temperatures rise and customers return to showrooms in greater numbers, some industry analysts said.
However, late February’s high customer incentives, the discounts to lure buyers into showrooms, will carry over into March, cutting in to companies’ profit, several analysts said.
Larry Dominique, executive vice president of industry research firm TrueCar, said there are about 80 days of supply on dealer lots, compared with a more desirable level of 60 to 65 days.
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