December U.S. auto sales expected to rise 14%, J.D. Power says
December has been a particularly good month for luxury vehicles, whose sales are on pace to account for 16 percent of retail sales, J.D. Power said
DETROIT -- Car shoppers have been "unfazed" by uncertainty related to the so-called fiscal cliff looming at the end of this month, and U.S. sales are expected to be up 14 percent in December, J.D. Power and Associates and LMC Automotive said today.
The firms estimated this month's seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate to be 15.3 million, slightly below the 15.4 million posted in November. Automotive News calculated the November SAAR to be 15.6 million, which was the highest since January 2008.
If the forecasts prove accurate, total U.S. light-vehicle sales for 2012 would be 14.5 million.
"The U.S. light-vehicle sales market continues to be a bright spot in the tremulous global environment," Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive, said in a statement. "The only major roadblock ahead for the U.S. market is the fiscal cliff. Assuming that hurdle is cleared, 2013 is one step closer to a stable and sustainable growth rate for autos, with volume above the 15 million unit mark."
Lawmakers and the Obama administration remain in negotiations over the fiscal cliff, which refers to tax increases and government spending cuts set to take effect at the end of this year.
J.D. Power projects a December retail selling rate of 12.2 million units, down from 13.2 million in November but up from 11.3 million in December 2011.
December has been a particularly good month for luxury vehicles, whose sales are on pace to account for 16 percent of retail sales, J.D. Power said. That would mark the segment's highest share since December 2009 . The accounted for 14.8 percent of the market a year ago.
"Luxury sales always do well this time of the year, but December is turning out to be a great month," said John Humphrey, senior vice president of global automotive operations at J.D. Power. "New and redesigned vehicle introductions, along with enhanced incentive activity, have been key drivers of the recovery in the luxury market."
LMC said North American light-vehicle production was up 19 percent through November compared with the same period of 2011, to 14.4 million units. It expects total production for the year to be 15.4 million units, a 17 percent increase from 2011.
In 2013, LMC said North American production forecast will probably reach 15.8 million units, up 3 percent, "with further upside potential contingent on the pace of demand in the first half of 2013."
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