The auto industry ended 2010 on a high as December sales had been the year’s highest, boosted by holiday and yearend discounts. In December, the U.S. demand for light vehicles went up by 11% to 1.1 million units -- the best month of the year in terms of number of units.
But when it comes to percentage increases, December 2010 is weaker primarily because it is being compared to December 2009, which is one of the strongest months for that year.
Autodata Corp. said that the pace of December sales was recorded at an annualized rate of 12.6 million units -- the highest of the year and is seen to be another signal of industry health.
Nearly all automakers increased their sales in December. Hyundai-Kia had a 37% increase while Nissan North America went up by 28%.
In fact, Toyota Motor Corp. was the only major company to post a decline, a 6% drop. Overall, U.S. light vehicle sales increased by 11% to 11.59 million units last year compared to 10.43 million in 2009, which was when demand dropped to the lowest point in 27 years. This marks the industry's first annual U.S. sales gain since 2005.
Autodata Corp. also said that industry sales last year remained nearly a third lower than the 16.8 million annual average from 2000 to 2007.
As the U.S. economy gradually recovers, auto makers and analysts forecast more growth in 2011. Ford Motor Co. predicts that U.S. sales will reach 12.5 million this year. GM hopes that U.S. industry sales will increase more than 10% from 2010. [via autonews - sub. required]