People are becoming more optimistic about the potential of the U.S. auto sales in the coming year as its sales in January have been unexpectedly high, according to analysts. Because of these results, LMC Automotive had raised its sales forecast for U.S. light-vehicle sales from 15 million to 15.1 million. LMC provides estimates that indicate that sales rose 8% in January compared to the previous year to a seasonally adjusted, annualized rate of 15 million.
In Edmunds.com’s forecast unveiled last Thursday, it turned out the website was more bullish, predicting a 14.5% year-over-year increase and an annualized rate of 15.3 million. The SAAR for December was at 15.3 million. In 2012, total U.S. sales increased by 13% to 14.5 million, the third straight year of double-digit growth after demand declined to its lowest in 27 years in 2009.
When it comes to actual volume, January and February are usually two of the weakest months of the year for U.S. auto sales. The forecast by Edmunds stood for a 23% drop while LMC represented a 33% decline from December. A statement was released by John Humphrey, senior vice president of global automotive operations at J.D. Power and Associates, which is affiliated with LMC. He said that the “fast start” this year is a good indication for the rest of 2013.
He said that sales have been riding on the momentum that the industry has experienced for the last two couple of years. He added that sales are on track to go back to pre-recession levels within the next few years. According to Edmunds’ estimates, all of the top five automakers will report increases in January of a minimum of 16% each. It also anticipates that the widest gains will be reported by Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group. In a statement, Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds' senior analyst, said that figures in January show that auto sales remained strong even after the holiday ads have stopped and the replacement sales with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy have dwindled.