U.S. auto sales are strong and headed for a fourth consecutive year of growth. Forecasters see no impending crisis and expect industry volume to hit the mid-15 million unit level this year, with further gains likely in 2014 and beyond.
Automakers, suppliers and dealers are maintaining the discipline they learned to survive the Great Recession. Auto production is closely matched with sales. Inventories are lean. Factory incentives are modest and targeted. Transaction prices are high and rising. Nearly everybody is profitable.
But this expansion is maturing. As companies shift from recovery mode to sustained growth, fresh challenges emerge.
U.S. auto sales are rising, but a surge of redesigned and all-new products means even established models will struggle to hold their own. And because the United States is a global hot spot, everybody makes it a priority target.
It's game on. Companies not fully prepared to shift from surviving to thriving risk being run over by those that are.