SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) -- Automotive research Web site Edmunds.com on Friday forecast a 34 percent jump in U.S. auto sales in March, citing attractive incentive deals from Toyota and other automakers.
Edmunds estimated that the annualized auto sales rate would reach 13.2 million vehicles in March, up from 9.86 million last year. The figure, called SAAR, reflects how many cars would be sold if the current sales pace persisted the entire year, adjusted for seasonality.
"The industry has been recharged by incentives from Toyota and other automakers," Edmunds analyst Jessica Caldwell said. "There is a lot of money in the marketplace right now and people are responding."
Toyota, which has been reeling from the recall of more than 8 million vehicles worldwide due to faulty accelerator pedals, earlier this month launched zero-percent financing deals and other incentives to lure customers back into showrooms.
Edmunds cautioned that auto sales would be considerably slower if not for the sales incentives.
"We shouldn't view this as a sign that the economy is recovering," Edmunds CEO Jeremy Anwyl said. "Take away the incentives and the sales will slow dramatically."
Automakers are scheduled to report March U.S. sales on April 1.