Sales of light vehicles in the United States are estimated to top 16 million units next year, according to executives from Mazda, Toyota and Kia at the J.D. Power Western Automotive Conference. Jim O'Sullivan, chief executive of Mazda North American Operations, remarked during a panel that he is expecting auto sales growth in the US to continue three to five years from now.
He, however, said that auto sales growth in the US will be slow and steady, no thanks to economic headwinds brought by sluggish job growth and slow-rebounding housing markets. "There are still a lot of things that need to be worked out," O'Sullivan said. He also said that as long as the US auto industry sells around 16 million units, it still has three to five years of growth ahead of it.
Toyota Division general manager Bill Fay also expects sales in the US to exceed 16 million units in 2014, but said that the rate of growth next year would moderate from the gains experienced in the last few years.
Tom Loveless, executive vice president of sales at Kia Motors America, called the growing share of US sales to retail customers as opposed to fleets a positive development. "The good news on that 16 million is that it's a much more robust and legitimate 16 million," Loveless said, referring to the industry's numbers before the recession that were spurred by incentives.
The executives pegged the expected US auto sales in 2014 to reach up to 16.2 million units. The industry posted an 8-percent rise in sales of cars and light trucks in the US, and is on track to sell mid-15 million units for the year. Auto sales in the US are being pushed by easing credit standards, low financing offers, new models and pent-up demand.