Behind the Wheel with Phil Lebeau

Green Shoots of Spring for Auto Sales

This is what happens when you combine pent up demand, a slowly improving economy and the most generous incentives we've seen since .

March auto sales may have started the month like a lamb, but they are roaring like a lion into the second half.

Need proof? Listen to the changing tone of automakers and those who track the industry:

* is forecasting monthly sales to be on a pace of 13.2 million - by far the most optimistic forecast we've seen.

* J.D. Power is more conservative, but still very encouraging with a projection of monthly sales rate of 12.1 million. That includes a 25 % increase in retail sales.

Why are sales finally picking up?

* Toyota's aggressive incentives: 0% financing and heavy advertising are bring buyers into Toyota showrooms. Yes, as much as it may dismay some of you Toyota critics, there is a huge and very loyal base of Toyota customers who have never had a problem with their car and they see these offers as an incredible opportunity they can't pass up. These people see the controversies over sudden acceleration as being way overblown.

* Matching incentives are churning the market. Toyota started the fire, but GM and Chrysler fanned the flames with their on aggressive incentives. The end result is a churning of the market with potential car buyers getting out to showrooms.

* Slightly more encouraging signs from the economy. This feeds into the psychology of the potential car buyer.

It's improving. As one dealer told me a few weeks back, buyers are feeling more comfortable. With the idea of taking on a monthly payment.

Bottom line: Spring has sprung at many dealerships - And this is what they've been waiting for.


Click on Ticker to Track Corporate News:

- Ford Motor 

- Toyota Motor

- Nissan

- Honda Motor


Questions?  Comments?