Those brave new car buyers

Automotive News | December 20, 2012 - 4:19 pm EST

It's Thursday. A new-style triple-witching eve. Friday is the first day of winter, the latest chance for Congress to push us off the fiscal cliff, and the end of the world if the Mayan-calendar doomsayers are right.

Sounds like a hunker-down week, right?

And yet LMC Automotive is forecasting a December auto sales pace of 15.3 million, just below the November rate that was the best since early 2006.

Who are these car buyers? Don't they know about Congress, the fiscal cliff and the Mayans?

Actually, they're the same Americans who normally buy new vehicles. Yes, they do know about Congress and the fiscal cliff brinksmanship. They know they'll almost certainly pay more taxes in 2013, maybe a lot more. They even know the wild claims that the Mayans predicted millennia ago that the world would end on Dec. 21, 2012.

But they don't care.

And they don't scare. Not any more.

After 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and this year so far, this is a fairly resilient bunch.

Since 2009, forecasters have noticed that car buyers are paying less attention to out-there scary stuff and more to personal circumstances.

Sure, a few buyers are still scared, or else 2012 vehicle sales would be headed for the 15 or 16 million mark rather than the mid-14 millions.

But the vast majority of Americans who buy their cars new are shrugging off the scaremongers.

The Mayan calendar ending its cycle? Happy New Year, buy a new calendar.

Fiscal cliff? Well, Congress is gonna be Congress.

What do they pay attention to? Mileage. As in, will this old car get through the winter without stranding me (or worse, my spouse!) some place dark and cold?

Now, that is scary.

Jesse Snyder is senior writer for Automotive News.Jesse Snyder is senior writer for Automotive News.

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