Vehicle sales in the U.S. jumped 14% in January 2013, thanks to strong demand for mid-sized cars and pickups. The five largest carmakers in the US all logged double-digit growths in the month, while all three Detroit companies gained market share in the period for the first time since August 2011. It was also the first January in which vehicle sales in the US exceeded 1 million units since 2008.
The strong vehicle sales in the first month of 2013 boosted confidence that the auto industry would grow into a six-year high this year. The results also minimized worries that a decline in consumers' take-home pay would make them more adamant in buying more expensive items. Bill Fay, Toyota Division general manager, said that the sales pace in the fourth quarter 2012 “rolled right” into January 2013, adding that it was a great start for the year.
However, the auto industry's seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate in January 2013 dropped faintly to 15.3 million from 15.4 million in December 2012. But that rate was much higher than in January 2012 at 14 million. If the growth rate continues, total vehicle sales for 2013 would fall in the middle of analysts and carmakers' projections, which range from 15 million to 15.5 million.
Paul Taylor, chief economist for the National Automobile Dealers Association, told Automotive News in an e-mail that a difficult recession in the past and slow recovery currently cannot stop the momentum that low interest rates bring to new-car sales. Taylor noted that consumers are replacing their old cars, and the constrained demand combined with low interest rates as well as a growing economy contributed to a strong January performance. John Garff, chief executive of Garff Enterprises, told Automotive News last week that new-car sales in January 2013 were tracking 22% higher than in the same month in 2012.