Auto sales in the U.S. grew 13.4% to the five-year high of
14.5 million vehicles in 2012 including a 9% rise to 1.4 million
in December last year. A host of macroeconomic factors helped the
industry reach the height. They include improving consumer
confidence, falling unemployment and improvement in home sales
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Sales were also fueled by strong pent-up demand, due to both
aging vehicles (average age of a car reached 11 years in the
U.S.) and the need to replace damaged vehicles from Hurricane
Sandy. Banks were also friendlier as they offered greater access
to loans with lower interest rates.
) topped all the automakers in terms of sales growth. Meanwhile,
Japanese automakers, including
Toyota Motor Corp.
Honda Motor Co.
Nissan Motor Co.
), toppled the U.S. automakers after struggling with a string of
vehicle safety recalls and earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Let
us peek at the individual automakers' sales.
General Motors Company
) posted a meager 3.7% rise in sales to 2.6 million vehicles in
2012, including a 5% rise in December to 245,733 vehicles, due to
weak truck and Cadillac sales. Its top-selling vehicles for the
year were Chevy Sonic subcompact and Chevrolet Equinox crossover
sports utility vehicle (SUV).
Ford Motor Co.
) sales edged up 4.7% to 2.3 million vehicles, including a 1.9%
gain in December to 214,222 vehicles, as sales of some of its
highest selling vehicles, Ford Escape SUV (2.6% gain) and Fusion
sedan (2.7% decline), were hurt by vehicle safety recalls. The
company's newly launched C-Max hybrid did very well in December.
Chrysler Group - controlled by Italy's
) - saw a 21% growth in sales to 1.65 million units, driven by
strong sales of its Dodge Caravan minivan and the Jeep Grand
Cherokee SUV. The company's December sales escalated 10% to
Toyota Motor reported an impressive 26.6% jump in sales to 2.08
million vehicles in 2012, including a 9% rise to 194,143 units in
December. The company saw strong sales across its lineups as it
recouped the dealer lots with new vehicles. Camry was the best
selling vehicle in the year.
Honda Motor recorded a hefty 24.0% rise in sales to 1.42 million
vehicles in the year, including a 26% growth in December to
132,774 vehicles. Civic and Accord were the top selling vehicles
in the year.
Nissan Motors witnessed a 9.5% growth in sales to 1.1 million
vehicles, however, its December sales went down 1.6% to 99,290
units. The company's Nissan brand sales exceeded 1 million mark
for the first time in its history. Nissan Altima was the
top-selling vehicle in the year (302,934 units).
) Mercedes-Benz reported a 15.4% rise in sales to 305,072
vehicles in 2012 driven by new models and a strong dealer
network. However, it was overthrown by Bayerische Motoren Werke
AG ("BMW") with sales increase of 14.0% to 281,460 units driven
by its strong 5-Series sales (72% gain).
Volkswagen posted a staggering 35.1% rise in sales to 438,133
vehicles in 2012, including a 35.4% rise to 44,005 units in
December. The company's Passat brand was the sales driver, both
during the month, when it more than doubled, and year, when it
increased more than fivefold.
Hyundai Motor Co.
) sales grew 9% to 703,007 vehicles in the year, including a 17%
rise to 59,435 vehicles in December. It is the Korean automaker's
best year in the U.S. The company's three-door compact car
Veloster did exceptionally well during the year with a nearly
fourfold increase in sales to 34,862 units.
What to Expect in 2013?
We expect the 2012 tailwinds to continue in 2013. The industry is
expected to scale new heights based on improving consumer
macroeconomic conditions. As far as the threats of "fiscal cliff"
are concerned, good news is that only 2% of vehicle buyers fall
in the uppermost tax bracket, according to a chief economist of
Ford, which implies that tax increases will not impact auto sales