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.
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.