US auto industry logs 15.6 million 2013 sales despite flat December

Article by Anita Panait, on January 6, 2014

The United States auto industry posted flat sales in December 2013, but that did not prevent it from closing the year with 15.6 million light-vehicles sales. Carmakers only sold 1,358,734 vehicles in the US in December 2013, just only a fraction of a percent higher than in December 2012. The seasonally adjusted annual selling rate for December was 15.4 million, below the 16.4 million SAAR in November.

While carmakers admit that winter storms in December limited sales, they were more focused on the overall growth of 8 percent for 2013.  "Some bad winter weather… probably hampered things slightly," Ford sales analyst Erich Merkle remarked in a conference call. Toyota Division General Manager Bill Fay, meanwhile, noted that industry retail sales surged by 87,000 units while December fleet volume dropped.

He remarked while most independent forecasters expect industry sales volume in 2014 to exceed 16 million – with "some as high as 16.4 million" -- Toyota Motor Sales anticipates a 16 million year.

He remarked that they expect the auto industry to continue as a major factor in the ongoing economic recovery and benefit from that recovery. Alec Gutierrez of Kelley Blue Book had another view, saying that month-end storms had less of an impact on the drop in December sales than the decline in showroom traffic.

"Even blue skies wouldn't have gotten us to a 16 million SAAR," he said. Eric Lyman of TrueCar.com remarked that despite a soft December, 2013 was "another great year for auto sales," noting that a year ago, the auto industry was expecting 2013 sales in the low- to mid-15 million range, which means that 15.6 million “outperforms what most expected.”

A number of major carmakers, however, grew in December 2013: Nissan North America with 11 percent; Chrysler Group with 6 percent and Ford Motor and American Honda with 2 percent each. [source: automotive news - sub. required]

Topics: united states, sales

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