U.S. industrywide retail auto sales declined about 33 percent in the first 16 days of April compared to a year ago, but the market shows some signs of stabilizing, according to J.D. Power and Associates, an influential industry tracking service.
New vehicle retail sales are expected to come in at 668,000 units, which represent a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 7.8 million units, the forecasting firm said.
That would mark the lowest sales level in nearly three decades but would be steady from February and March retail sales rates of 7.7 million and 7.9 million units, respectively.
Total light vehicle sales for April are expected to come in at the annualized rate of 9.7 million units.
"We expect market conditions to slowly improve during the remainder of 2009, which will lead us back to a solid industry with improved long-term fundamental growth," said Jeff Schuster, executive director of global forecasting at J.D. Power.
U.S. auto sales fell nearly 40 percent in the first three months of 2009 compared with the same period last year, driving General Motors and Chrysler to the verge of bankruptcy.
General Motors and Chrysler have been operating on $17.4 billion of government loans since the start of the year.