Picking up where already-solid December sales left off, things are looking good for January to continue the momentum of the automotive recovery, industry analysts suggest, one key observer noting that demand is running “ahead of expectations.”
So far, the ongoing run-up in fuel prices – which have now pushed the price of a gallon of gas to more than $3 in most of the country—doesn’t seem to be short-circuiting market momentum, observers indicate, though a further, sharp increase could still send things into a downward spiral.
If mid-month sales trends continue to hold, the U.S. auto market will show a 23% year-over-year gain for January 2011, forecasts the California-based market research firm, J.D. Power and Associates. The industry, the firm reports, is “starting the year ahead of expectations,” with an annualized sales rate approaching 12 million – about 2 million ahead of January 2010 sales levels.