New vehicle retail sales in August are forecast by JD Power to cross the 1m-unit mark for the first time in the past 12 months, boosted by the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ scrappage incentive.

The market analyst said that based on the first 13 selling days of the month, new-vehicle retail sales for the month of August are expected to come in at slightly more than 1 million units, up nearly 2 percent from one year ago. This marks the first increase in retail sales volume since June 2007.

“Improved consumer confidence and credit availability during the past six months have combined with the CARS program to lift industry sales out of their slumping year-to-date levels, which have been down approximately 35 percent year-over-year,” said Gary Dilts, senior vice president of global automotive operations at JD Power and Associates.

“These factors set the foundation for a gradual recovery in the months ahead. Reduced inventories will likely hold back some of this momentum, but the automakers are moving quickly to ramp up production and rebuild stock.”

As inventory is channelled to retail sales, August fleet sales are expected to decline by more than 50 percent compared with one year ago.

As a result, August total light-vehicle sales are projected to come in at 1.1 million units, down just 8 percent from August 2008.

The August seasonally adjusted annualised rate (SAAR) for total vehicle sales increases to 12.2m units, up 1.2m units from July.