Dealers like Detroit show, prospects for year

Volkswagen's concept for a mid-sized crossover.

DETROIT -- Dealers touring the Detroit auto show liked what they saw. And they like their prospects for 2013.

Detroit's unveilings, from the redesigned Chevy Corvette to Volkswagen's teaser for its coming mid-sized crossover, reinforce the optimism dealers and others in the industry have for a continued sales resurgence.

"What I'm impressed by is just the volume of good product," said Craig Monaghan, CEO of Asbury Automotive Group Inc., the nation's seventh-largest retailer. "If this is a glimpse into 2013, it could be another great year for us."

Asbury is looking for industry sales of around 15 million new vehicles for 2013, Monaghan said.

The head of the nation's largest retailer thinks the industry will do even better. AutoNation Inc. CEO Mike Jackson is forecasting industry sales at the mid-15 million mark.

"We still have the underlying structural drivers that have been there -- genuine replacement need, exciting new product as we see at the show, great financing available," Jackson said. "But we now have additional bright spots in the economy."

Strengthening home construction and the robust energy industry will help drive consumer confidence and vehicle demand this year, particularly for pickups, he said. He added: "The consumer is no longer paralyzed and transfixed by the soap opera in Washington, D.C."

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