U.S. auto sales maintained the strong upward trend that delivered a solid send-off to 2012 – most major manufacturers reporting double-digit gains for January.
A number of manufacturers set new sales records during the first month of 2013, and Detroit makers, in particular, recovered some much-needed momentum, two of the Detroit Big Three ending last year with market share declines.
Industry observers credit a variety of factors for driving strong demand last month, including an improving economy, on the whole, and a bump in the long-struggling housing market, in particular. Notably, January saw demand surge in a variety of different segments, from high-mileage small cars and hybrid vehicles to full-size pickups.
“We’re in a fundamentally sound trajectory,” said Mustafa Mohatarem, the chief economist for General Motors. While the industry is still operating well behind the record 17 million-plus rates experienced during the middle of the last decade, he suggested the modest but steady recovery the industry has been experiencing this cycle “is much more sustainable” than some of the rapid rebounds of decades past.