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Auto sales totals projected at 15.3 million this year

Sales of autos in the US will continue to blaze the trail to economic recovery during 2013 with a 7 percent boost that will bring total unit sales to 15.3 million for the year.
Posted: January 2, 2013 - 8:05PM
Author: Don Bain

The projection comes from USA Today, citing data from Polk indicating the market will be buoyed by continuing economic vigor and the introduction of 43 new models – a factor that usually spurs automotive interest and sales.

When automakers release their final totals for the year tomorrow, they are expected to total 14.5 million for last year – the highest level reached since the recession started to take hold in 2007.

According to most pundits, a return to sales of over 15 million per annum is a good indication the economy has recovered. Nevertheless, sales levels are not expected to reach their former peak of 17 million for a few years as yet.

Of course, much of the current outlook is predicated on a progressive resolution to the coming Congressional later this year. The legislative lemmings managed to avoid plunging over the fiscal cliff, but there are other precipices they may tumble off even yet. The deal reached New Year's Day, raised taxes for individuals earning over $400,000 and for couples bringing home more than $450,000, but this action only deferred dealing with drastic federal spending cuts, making another showdown inevitable within a widely divided Congress.

Over the next three months, the Federales will start having problems with borrowing money and the temporary funding for federal agencies will expire.

In its projection of trends for 2013Polk expects a boom in big pickup sales, a highly profitable line for automakers. Though the demand has been down over the last five years thanks to the economy, it will get a likely lift in 2013 based on all new models coming from Ford, GM, and Toyota.

Polk also expects the midsize sedan segment, now the largest in the market, will continue its industry lead. Currently 18.5% of all vehicles sold are mid-size sedans, a full two percent over any other segment of the market.

“Recent redesigns of nearly every vehicle in the midsize segment are forcing more competition and continued growth,” Tom Libby, Polk's lead North American analyst, told USA Today.

After peaking at about 17 million in 2005, auto sales dropped to 10.4 million in 2009, marking the lowest sales level in over 30 years.
Next year’s prediction of 15.3 million units is head and shoulders over 2009’s puny record – so it took three years to hit bottom and another four to resurface.

To paraphrase an old saying, what goes down must come back up again. When it comes to the US economy, it’s just about time, don’t you think?