Another domestic-brand-fueled sales surge in December signals a better 2011 and the U.S. industry’s eventual return to sales topping 16 million vehicles, AutoNation Inc. CEO Mike Jackson said Tuesday.
Gains in pickups, domestic brands and a strengthening California market led to “excellent” sales in December, Jackson said on CNBC.
AutoNation, the largest dealership group in the country, reported a 12 percent jump to 21,970 vehicles in December. That outpaced the overall industry's 11 percent gain. The retailer’s pickup sales rose 35 percent for the month, while Ford sales jumped 28 percent and California sales increased 21 percent, Jackson said.
For the full year, AutoNation reported sales of 207,180, up 13 percent. Total industry sales for the year also rose 11 percent.
For 2011, AutoNation is now estimating industry sales of 12.8 million. Jackson predicted another year-end lift, with the annualized sales rate above 13 million going into 2012.
“The cycle is going to break through 16 million ultimately,” Jackson said on CNBC. “I don’t know whether that’s three years away, four years away.”
Increasing population and a seriously aging vehicle fleet dictate such a rebound. Said Jackson: “It’s only a matter of when, not if, if you look at the underlying demographics, the underlying replacement rate needs.”