DETROIT Dec 30 December U.S. auto sales,
spurred by end-of-the-year bargains, likely rose about 4 percent
from a year earlier, industry analysts said.
If confirmed, that would mean 2013 will end as the best for
U.S. auto sales since pre-recession 2007, at around 15.6 million
new cars and trucks sold, which would be an increase of about 8
percent from 2012.
Major automakers report December sales on Friday.
U.S. consumers are expected to spend more than $34 billion
on new vehicles in December, a historic high for the month, said
J.D. Power & Associates, which said the annual sales haul would
also be a record at more than $370 billion.
Auto sales continue to outpace the recovery of the U.S.
economy. While auto sales are expected to rise again in 2014,
the pace of the sales climb is expected to slow.
Factors that contributed to higher sales throughout 2013
were at play again in December, including low interest rates on
loans, attractive lease deals and consumers wanting to replace
Plus, in December, there were manufacturer discounts as
shoppers had time off during the holidays to visit a dealership,
said Alec Gutierrez, analyst with auto research firm Kelley Blue
December is one of the strongest months for U.S. auto sales,
in part because of the bargains available, but also because
consumers have developed over decades behaviors that favor
end-of-the year buying, said Thomas King, senior director at
J.D. Power & Associates.
December's typical rise in auto sales is often followed by a
drop in sales in January. This past January, U.S. retail auto
sales were down 40 percent from December.
Larry Dominique, president of auto industry research firm
ALG, said discounts as deep as 25 percent from manufacturers'
list prices were seen in December, including $5,000 off the
price of a 2014 Ford Motor Co Focus hatchback.
The Ford F-Series pickup truck, the top-selling vehicle in
America, has been discounted by 23 percent for a new F-150 Super
Cab, Dominique said.
Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters see the annual sales
rate for December U.S. auto sales at 16 million vehicles, a
level that has been topped only in November and August.
Incentives paid by manufacturers in December rose only about
$100, while the average transaction price per vehicle rose to
about $31,000 from about $30,200, which should help the profit
margins for auto manufacturers, said Jesse Toprak, president of
Topak Consulting in California.
General Motors Co, will see auto sales slide about 3
percent from a year earlier, while No. 2 Ford Motor Co,
will sell about 5 percent more vehicles this month than a year
ago, according to auto research firm TrueCar.com.
TrueCar also predicted that Toyota Motor Corp
December sales will rise 3 percent, and Chrysler Group's will
increase 4 percent. Chrysler's majority owner is Italy's Fiat