Polar vortex seen to cool down sales in January 2014

Article by Christian Andrei, on February 3, 2014

January auto sales in United States may have been chilled by the polar vortex, but that should not stop carmakers in the country to post another good year this 2014. Chilling weather in large parts of the US, including the East Coast and Midwest, could negatively affect sales in January, according to analysts. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters expect the industry's annual selling rate in January to be at 15.65 million vehicles.

Joseph Amaturo of Buckingham Research, however, was more critical of the effect of the bad weather in January, placing the figure at a rate of 15.3 million vehicles. The industry's annual sales rate in January 2013 was 15.23 million vehicles.

"It's the winter blues really," said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at research firm LMC Automotive. "The country has been hit by bad weather and in January we saw it at the beginning of the month and now we're closing with weather issues." LMC initially expected a 1.2-percent sales surge in January and an annual sales rate of 15.9 million vehicles.

The firm, however, updated its expectations to reflect an almost 1-percent drop and an annual rate of 15.5 million. Most analysts expect January 2014 sales on a percentage basis to be nearly flat compared with the same month in 2013, with some of them expecting a slight increase and others a small drop. The uncle of Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas' grumbled at the effect of the bad weather on the sales of his dealership. "Maybe people want to buy cars, but they don't want to lose their fingers to frostbite for the privilege," the uncle said, according to a recent Jonas research note.

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