For 2011, U.S. light vehicle sales are predicted to rise to 12.9 million vehicles, the second consecutive year of gains. According to the average of 17 analysts' estimates compiled by Bloomberg, total deliveries will be higher by 11% compared to 2010.
Last Tuesday, Autodata Corp. said that sales rebounded to 11.6 million vehicles last year from 2009, which was when sales were at their lowest in 27 years.
The gain would give additional revenue for an industry that became profitable once again in 2010 and that was led by Ford Motor Co.'s $6.37 billion of earnings for three quarters.
Nevertheless, the analysts' forecast is for the third-lowest annual total since 1992, meaning that it will be 23% less than the average 16.8 million annual sales rate before the recession. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP predicts that there will be 12.5 million deliveries this year.
Its analyst Dan Montague said that there are “some serious positives out there,” but that buyers have not been able to enter the market because of credit issues, or they're paying down debt and don’t want to get a new car loan.
Montague said that the growth will be “methodical” and will be of the “stair-step kind.” Autodata revealed that General Motors Co., Ford and Chrysler Group LLC post U.S. sales gains that exceeded analysts' estimates in December, bringing the industry's annual rate to 12.6 million for the month. In the two months before that, deliveries had run at a 12.3 million unit pace. [via autonews - sub. required]