Ahead of the Bell: Auto Sales

AP News
Posted: Aug 02, 2011 7:36 AM
Ahead of the Bell: Auto Sales

U.S. auto sales were expected to rise only slightly in July, as high prices and worries about the economy kept many buyers away from showrooms.

Edmunds.com is forecasting sales of 1.06 million cars and trucks, up just 1.6 percent from July 2010. Automakers are scheduled to report sales starting around 11 a.m. EDT Tuesday.

Edmunds said supply constraints began to ease for Japanese automakers in July. Earthquake-related shortages of Japanese cars and trucks were one reason U.S. auto sales slowed in May and June.

Toyota Motor Corp. has been producing eight of its 12 North American-built cars and SUVs at full capacity since the beginning of June. Those vehicles reached dealer lots last month. But even as dealers replenished their lots, buyers remained hesitant. Consumers' confidence in the economy _ which is crucial for car sales_ remains low. Unemployment is high.

Car prices remain relatively high, too, for buyers who have become accustomed to big summertime sales.

Automakers spent an average of $2,418 per vehicle on incentives, down 15 percent from last July, according to car pricing site TrueCar.com.