Automakers released strong sales data for February despite, or perhaps because, the price for a gallon of gas rising 8% during the month. Coupled with January's numbers the widely watched "sales annual run rate" (SAAR) is likely over 14mm for the first time since 2008 and up over 20% in 2 years.
Regardless of how you chop up the data it's a stunning comeback from the brink for the industry. In the attached clip my Yahoo! Finance colleague Aaron Task joins me to discuss what the numbers mean with Jeff Schuster, Senior Vice President of Forecasting at LMC Automotive.
"We're off to the races!" gushes Schuster. The forecaster views the robust sales as a sign of genuine economic improvement and favorable industry trends, as opposed to a flight from gas guzzlers into more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Coming into 2012 the average age of a car on the road was at an all-time high over 10 years, due to longer-lasting vehicles and a dreadful economy. To Schuster there's evidence drivers are, at long last, releasing their purse strings.
"Buyers are just now saying 'Okay, it's time to come back into the market; we've held onto our vehicle longer than we should have."Read More »from Rising Gas Prices Not Enough to Stall Auto Sales: Forecaster