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July auto sales point to improving business environment

November 23, 2010
Higher business spending, record levels of incentives and recent tax breaks contributed to strong sales of new cars and light trucks in July. The month's sales totals were the highest of the year, improving the year-todate annualized rate toward the 16.3 million sales mark that the National Automobile Dealers Association projected for the full year. "This relatively strong sales performance suggests that an improving stock market, the start of a renewal in corporate investment, and growing customer satisfaction are supporting sales of new vehicles, especially light trucks," said NADA Chief Economist Paul Taylor. Leading the sales gains were sales of crossover utility vehicles (up 30 percent) and luxury sport utility vehicles (up 20 percent). Also faring well were pickup trucks (up 6.4 percent), vans (up 7.5 percent) and luxury European vehicles (up 4 percent). "The blistering 18.1 million unit annual pace for sales in July a year ago, as the Big Three renewed incentives, tends to mask the strength of last month's totals," Taylor added. "But year-to-date sales are just 2.2 percent behind 2002, the fourth strongest year on record."