Strong Dec. sales help industry shift gears to ‘sweet’

UPDATED: 1/5/10 9:21 am ET Close the books on 2010. We’re heading into the sweet part of the auto sales cycle.

December turned into a strong month, even better than the solid October and November. It let us close out what had been an often shaky year of slow recovery on a strong note, finishing at 11.6 million sales.

Yeah, I know where 11.6 million fits on the comparison chart. But it’s a lot better than the really scary 10.4 million of 2009. And I know which direction we’re pointed.

Late 2010 was the quarter when the tires finally bit. Depending on your age -- think traction control; think limited-slip differential; heck, think feathering the clutch -- it’s when things took off.

We’re moving forward. From here, it’s rev and shift, rev and shift.

We’re not sweating survival. We’re not burning the furniture to keep from freezing.

Now the industry shifts again. Everybody has a new set of challenges: finding capital to expand, then managing it properly; hiring the right new talent; retaining the folks who got you through the crisis; maximizing profits during growth. ... The list goes on and on.

In this industry, there’s never a moment without challenge. But, hey, this is a better set of problems.

The cruel season is ending. This won’t be an easy year, but it’s easier to smile.