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New Car Sales Looking Strong in December

Heavy incentives, advertising drawing buyers to showrooms.

by on Dec.19, 2014

Low gas prices are helping to drive sales of full-size pickups like the Ford F-150, which is helping the year end on a high note.

With manufacturers pouring money into advertising, marketing and incentives this month, new car sales are expected to finish the year on a high note when the final numbers are totaled up in early January.

TrueCar, Inc., the negotiation-free car buying and selling platform, now expects December 2014 auto sales will show healthy year-over-year growth with a volume increase of as much as 11% and a 16.6 million SAAR, a pace not seen since before the great recession.

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Low fuel prices, sustained economic growth and U.S. consumers’ appetite for pickups, utility vehicles and luxury models have buoyed sales this year, up an estimated 5.8% to 16.5 million cars and trucks from last year’s 15.6 million. That demand has also resulted in higher transaction prices and revenue gains for automakers, according to True Car analysts. (more…)

Automakers End 2013 With Best Sales in Six Years

Optimism is the word as 2014 gets underway.

by on Jan.03, 2014

It was another "best-selling" year for the F-150 as it again captured the title of best-selling vehicle in the U.S., helping Ford to a 2% sales increase in December.

With domestic and international brands reporting solid gains in December, new vehicle sales, like the stock market, finished 2013 on an upbeat note, creating optimism about the outlook for the year to come.

While a few manufacturers have yet to report in, the industry was on track to report its best sales numbers in six years, a welcome relief after the worst industry downturn since the Great Depression. A total of about 15.5 million vehicles were purchased by U.S. motorists in 2013, and forecasts for the coming year range from IHS Automotive’s conservative 16.1 million to as much as 16.5 million or more.

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Significantly, an assortment of manufacturers finished last year reporting all-time best numbers, a list that included imports such as Audi, Subaru, Hyundai and Kia. But at least a few automakers ended 2013 on a mixed note – Toyota, for one, reporting a 1.7% drop in December sales, though it was nonetheless up 7.4% for the year as a whole. (more…)

Rising Consumer Confidence Driving Surge in Car Sales

2013 set to end as best year since recession began.

by on Dec.26, 2013

Consumers are feeling more upbeat about buying a car as the economy continues to improve.

With the New Year fast approaching, there are new signs the auto industry will finish 2013 with a flourish as consumer sentiment continues to improve along with the job market.

Sales for 2013 are certain to be the best in six years, according to industry analysts who continue to debate just how much more upside potential there is for 2014 and beyond.

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“We expect December to finish strong,” said Larry Dominique, President of ALG and Executive Vice President of TrueCar.com. ”Consumers are taking advantage of low lease rates and inexpensive financing, which continues a shift from buying used to buying new.”

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December Likely to Bring Record Spending on New Cars

Automakers offer tempting deals to draw in buyers.

by on Dec.23, 2013

A new Ford F-150 rolls off the maker's assembly line in Kansas City, Missouri. Strong pickup demand helped boost car sales in 2013.

With millions of dollars of television commercials airing this month and millions more in incentive money on the table, automakers are expected to end the year with a bang, sales expected to be up at least 4% from December 2012 – with the industry anticipating all-time record consumer spending.

While new-vehicle sales started off slowly in December, they are expected to finish strong at the end of the month, according to a monthly sales forecast developed jointly by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.  That would be good news for industry planners worried about a recent bulge in dealer inventories that’s already led several manufacturers to trim back production.

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Consumers in the U.S. are expected to spend more than $34 billion on new vehicles in December, a historic high for the month. That reflects not just the end-of-year sales burst but also record transaction prices, according to the forecast. The optimism was reinforced by a new report from the U.S. Department of Commerce which indicated the U.S. economy was expanding more rapidly than first thought. The Commerce Department now estimates the U.S. economy grew by 4.1% during the third quarter.

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Car Sales Surge – and May be Bad News for Buyers

Incentives down, prices up.

by on Jan.03, 2013

Toyota's Camry nabs the sales crown for 2012.

Automakers have closed the books on 2012 and appear to be carrying enough momentum to continue their recovery in the year ahead.  That is likely to mean record profits for both Detroit and foreign manufacturers, according to industry experts – but it could mean fewer discounts and notably higher transaction prices for consumers.

While a few makers have yet to report their final numbers, December appears on track to have yielded a low double-digit gain for the U.S. auto industry, perhaps as much as 15% compared to the final month of 2011.  That will likely mean that the past year, as a whole, was the industry’s best since 2006, just before the automotive market – and the economy as a whole – began sliding into recession.

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The annualized rate of sales in December came 15.3 million units basically the same as in November. Nonetheless, the year was a good one for the industry as most carmakers posted solid sales gains – and giving credence to recent forecasts that sales should reach the mid-15 million range for all of 2013.

Meanwhile, average transaction prices soared to an all-time record high last month of $31,228, according to data analyzed by TrueCar.com.

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December Sales on Track to Be Best Since Mid-Decade

Makers show little impact from “fiscal cliff” fears.

by on Jan.03, 2013

The latest Grand Cherokee helps Jeep reach an all-time sales record for 2012.

Despite concerns that the ongoing fiscal cliff crisis might scare off potential buyers, the American auto market continued its rebound in December, with preliminary indications that the month will wrap up with a solid, double-digit increase.

And with the political gridlock broken, at least for now, that is buoying expectations that 2013 will be on track to bring the best sales since well before the start of what was, for the auto industry, the worst downturn since the Great Depression.

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A number of key makers have yet to release results, but of the foreign-owned brands, the most significant upturn so far has been reported by Volkswagen, which scored a 35% gain, making it the best December for the maker since 1973, at the height of demand for the original Beetle.

Japan’s giant wasn’t far behind, Toyota Motor Sales, USA, reporting year end sales of 2,082,504 — up 26.6% over last year. Despite some problems in China resulting from an ongoing dispute with Japan over ownership of a chain of uninhabited islands, Toyota is expected to end 2012 as the world’s best-selling automaker.

Workers at the new VW plant in Tennessee have had trouble meeting the growing demand for the American-made Passat.

Hyundai, meanwhile, managed a solid 17% gain for the month – all the more significant since it suggests the maker has overcome the potential pitfall of having had to sharply revise downward its fuel economy numbers after admitting it fudged federal mileage tests.

Nissan, which has tended to lag among the top-tier Japanese makers, also delivered strong numbers for the month, the company reporting an overall 3% increase – which included a 41% rise at the maker’s Infiniti luxury brand, and a more modest 10% jump for flagship Nissan models.

The holiday season appears to have been particularly good for Detroit’s automakers. With Chrysler in the lead, they collectively enjoyed their best December in five years.

Chrysler Group LLC reported a 10% increase in sales during December against relatively strong sales last year.

“Chrysler Group ended 2012 on a strong note with…our best December sales since 2007,” said Reid Bigland, President and CEO — Dodge Brand and Head of U.S. Sales. “Looking back on 2012, we were again one of the fastest growing automakers in the country with total sales up 21%.”

Few makers took as big a hit as the suburban Detroit-based Chrysler which, along with General Motors, barely survived a 2009 bankruptcy.  But since emerging from Chapter 11 under the control of Italy’s Fiat, it has steadily gained ground.

The Jeep brand’s 13% sales increase in the U.S. helped push its global sales to an all-time record in 2012. Seven Chrysler Group models set annual sales records in 2012.

“We also recorded 33 consecutive months of year-over-year sales growth and our strongest annual sales in five years. Finally, seven of our vehicles recorded their best ever annual sales in 2012 demonstrating how the quality, design and fuel efficiency of our product line up continues to resonate with consumers,” Bigland boasted.

Cross-town rival Ford Motor Co. also had reason to crow. Though its sales were up just a modest 1.9% year-over-year, it nonetheless said that yielded its strongest December since 2006. The Ford brand, in particular, ended 2012 with 2,168,015 vehicles sold – the only brand to top 2 million U.S. sales.

“Ford finished 2012 strong, with retail sales showing improved strength as more customers returned to dealer showrooms,” said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service. “Ford’s fuel-efficient cars and hybrid vehicles showed the most dramatic growth for the year, and we achieved our best year for commercial vehicle sales since 2008.”

Analysts have been watching the industry’s inventory numbers of late to see if unsold vehicles were beginning to pile up on dealer lots, which would indicate the growth of new vehicle sales was beginning to slow.  There were signs of that in November, especially at General Motors, where dealers were saddled with more than a 150-day supply of full-size Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups.

Mark Reuss, GM’s president for North American operations, acknowledged the maker had “misread” the competition and was forced to increase incentives in the hotly competitive pickup segment last month, but the move appears to have paid off.

General Motors Co.’s dealers delivered the company’s highest December sales in five years, with deliveries up 5% year-over-year to 245,733 vehicles.  December was also GM’s best retail sales month of 2012. Incentive spending was “competitive” with industry-wide levels, the maker contended.

“All four GM brands increased their sales year over year in December and we were strong across the board in cars, crossovers and pickup trucks,” said Kurt McNeil, vice president of U.S. sales operations.

(Sales of Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid hit new record – but fall short of goal. Click Here for that story.)

“We also achieved an important fuel economy milestone,” McNeil noted. “In December, GM became the first U.S. automaker to sell more than 1 million vehicles in a single year that get an EPA-estimated 30 mpg or better on the highway.”

With the rest of the industry expected to deliver similarly solid sales numbers for December, the closely watched Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate, or SAAR, is expected to push up to or above 15 million, analysts have forecast.

Meanwhile, a new forecast from R.L. Polk, a Detroit consultancy that closely tracks vehicle registrations, sees overall demand for 2013 reaching the 15.3 million market, with the number likely to grow to 16 million by 2015.

Significantly, that would be well short of the 17.5 million vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2005 but Polk senior analyst Tom Libby called that an “artificial” high created by give-away incentives that sharply reduced industry profitability and nearly destroyed the Detroit Big Three.  With capacity trimmed sharply during the recession, he says makers are now in a position to post record earnings on lower, but more natural, sales levels.

Paul A. Eisenstein contributed to this report.

Car Sales Holding Strong in December

Could set torrid pace going into 2013.

by on Dec.21, 2012

Analysts say strong demand for luxury cars is driving December sales.

December has become a pivotal month for car sales and this December is looking particularly strong with sales up an estimated 15% thanks to a year-end push by luxury carmakers.

In fact, some analysts are predicting that 2012 could end with one of the strongest bursts of buying seen all year, setting a torrid pace going into 2013.

The J.D. Power and Associates’ Power Information Network and LMC Automotive new-vehicle retail selling rate remains robust near the close of 2012, with potential buyers unfazed by the current level of economic uncertainty generated by the fiscal cliff negotiations in Washington D.C.

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December new-vehicle retail sales are expected to come in at 1,152,500 units, which represent a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, or SAAR, of 12.2 million units. December’s selling rate remains strong and is 500,000 units higher than the expected 2012 full-year rate. Retail transactions are the most accurate measurement of true underlying consumer demand for new vehicles. When fleet sales are added in, that could push the SAAR past the 15 million units, the report estimated.

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Auto Industry Likely to End Year with Strong Sales

Preliminary signs suggest year-end buying surge.

by on Dec.23, 2011

Christmas shoppers will put plenty of cars under the tree this year.

The auto industry has been doing much of the heavy lifting, in recent months, helping fuel a late-2011 surge in the economy and it looks like the car market’s recovery from its worst downturn since the Great Depression is continuing into the year-end holidays.

In fact, December is on track to be the strongest month of the year, an unusual development as American consumers typically focus their spending on smaller presents they can pile up under the tree.

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But if preliminary reports hold true for the month as a whole, December could see retail U.S. car sales surge past the 1 million mark for the first time since the 2009 Cash for Clunkers program, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

“The industry has managed through another series of external shocks and is in a healthier position as the year closes,” said John Humphrey, Power’s senior vice president of global automotive operations.

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2010 Car Sales End on a High Note

Most makers score gains but Toyota again posts decline.

by on Jan.04, 2011

Ford gains ground in import-friendly California with the new Fiesta.

Car sales finished 2010 on a high note with virtually every manufacturer posting sales increases, and with the seasonally adjusted annual rate of car sales, or SAAR, coming in at a year-high 13.3 million.

The unofficial sales tally for 2010 was over 11.5 million units, with the year finishing stronger than anticipated as recently as 90 days ago, according to Ford sales analyst George Pipas.

The December and year-end sales data also confirmed that General Motors, Ford Motor Co. , Chrysler, Hyundai and Kia had made deep inroads into territory once dominated by Toyota, which saw its sales slip by 5% in December as it finished the year with a small decline in sales.

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The domestic brands all posted double-digit sales increases for the month and for the year, while both Korean brands set sales records and Volkswagen AG, which has struggled for years to figure out the U.S. market enjoyed its best sales since 2003.

Smaller Japanese brands such as Mazda also finished the year with solid sales gains and, in Subaru’s case yet another record.  Honda and Nissan also posted increases for the month and the year. Sales by BMW, Audi and Mercedes Benz also increased during 2010.

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December Car Sales Promise “Robust Finish” For 2010

Preliminary numbers “significantly beating expectations.”

by on Dec.17, 2010

Unstoppable? The Chevy Camaro is set to outpace the Ford Mustang for the first time since 1978.

Deck the halls … and clear out the garage.  December is normally one of the weaker months of the year when it comes to car sales, consumers typically focusing on gifts small enough to fit under the tree.  But preliminary signs suggest that, this year, recession weary buyers are spending big, with car sales “significantly beating expectations,” according to J.D. Power and Associates.

Through the first two weeks of the month, dealers tracked by the California-based research firm report that December could, in fact, bring the best retail sales numbers of 2010, an annualized sales rate of 10.8 million.

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Noting that, “Retail transactions are the most accurate measurement of true underlying consumer demand for new vehicles,” Power analysts said that if trends hold, December retail sales will come in at 936,300 cars, trucks and crossovers, a 19% increase from year-ago levels.  That would be a “robust finish for 2010,” according to Jeff Schuster, Power’s executive director of global forecasting.

“Even with the possibility that sales in the third week of December may be affected by the recent winter storms, the strength in sales during the second week is expected to continue through the rest of the month,” said Schuster. “As a result, it appears that 2010 will end on a high note.”

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