Auto Industry Experiences Best Year Since 2007

First Up 01/04/13

January 4, 2013

Auto Industry Experiences Best Year Since 2007
AIADA’s Market Watch sales report shows that auto manufacturers sold 14.49 million vehicles in America in 2012, the best annual rate since 2007. With cars on the road averaging 11 years in age, the oldest level ever recorded, and the economy continuing its gradual recovery, consumers were driven to buy. Honda’s sales were up 26.8 percent from December 2011, Hyundai’s were up 17.1 percent, and Toyota’s grew 7 percent. With a 35 percent increase, Volkswagen saw its best December since 1970. “After several challenging years, the U.S. auto market saw solid improvement in 2012,” said AIADA President Cody Lusk. “Dealers are confident that this positive momentum will continue into 2013, and that the retail market still contains substantial room for growth.” For the year overall, international brands sold an average of five of the top ten selling vehicles in the U.S. In December, six of the top ten selling vehicles were international nameplates. AutoData Corp. estimated the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) at 15.37 million units, an improvement over 13.61 million units one year ago. Sales for all brands, unadjusted for business days, were up 9 percent from December 2011 and 13.4 percent year over year. Click here to read the rest of AIADA’s December Market Watch sales report.

3 Things Buyers Will Love About 2013 – And 3 They'll Hate
With 2012 U.S. auto sales in the books, we're three days into a 2013 that doesn't look too bad. Virtually everybody is assuming continued sales growth, though a bit slower. However, writes Jesse Snyder at Automotive News, savor that thought just a moment. We've had three straight years of double-digit gains. And over the long feast-or-famine history of this industry, that's rare. More importantly, let's realize that dealers are no longer selling to a crowd with ravenous appetites. It's a pretty normal marketplace these days, not driven by extraordinary events. Which is to say, little things are more important. What will move the market this year? Snyder sees three things potential buyers might love, and three they'll probably hate. What they’ll love: low cost financing, spiffy new products, and swapping out their clunkers. What they’ll hate: the jobless recovery, less cash to spend, and the never-ending drama of the political system. Read more of Snyder’s take on what’s fueling the 2013 auto market here.

Car Buyers Paid Record-High Prices in December
The prices consumers paid for new passenger cars and light trucks rose to record highs in December, according to data from The Wall Street Journal reports that the average transaction price for light vehicles in the U.S. totaled an estimated $31,228 in December, which is an increase of $542 or 1.8 percent compared with December 2011, and up $396 or 1.3 percent from November 2012. “Pricing and incentives spending in December were almost ideal for manufacturers as the industry spent less money on incentives while attaining higher net transaction prices in the market place compared to year ago levels,” said Jesse Toprak, a senior analyst with TrueCar. “The resurgence of the trucks segment in December helped contribute to the some of the highest average transaction prices we have ever recorded,” he said. TrueCar also estimated the average incentive for light-vehicles fell $238 or 9 percent to $2,409 in December compared with the year-earlier period but rose $99 or 4.3 percent from November 2012. Click here to check out latest trends in estimated transaction prices and incentives for the top car makers at The Wall Street Journal.

Who Buys The Most Hybrid Cars? Northern Californians, Report Says
The growing smorgasbord in new car showrooms includes 43 hybrid-electric vehicles, four plug-in hybrids and 12 pure electric cars. Still, hybrid sales in the U.S. remain stubbornly flat. The market experts at Polk say hybrids will continue to comprise just under 3 percent of all car sales in the U.S. for the foreseeable future. You wouldn’t know that if you lived in San Francisco, where almost one out of 10 vehicles purchased is a hybrid, highest in the country. Forbes reports that California, not surprisingly, leads the nation in hybrid sales, with nine of the top 15 hybrid-happy markets in the U.S. These markets, along with four cities in Oregon, plus Seattle and Tuscon, account for about 30 percent of all hybrid sales in the nation. These same metro areas accounted for 41 percent of all electric vehicle registrations, according to Polk. In fact, San Francisco and Los Angeles together accounted for about one-quarter of all EV registrations. The regional discrepancies are among the more interesting trends in Polk’s 2013 automotive forecast, released Jan. 2. Read about the rest of Polk’s findings here.

Subaru Recalls 634,000 Vehicles for Lighting Issue
According to, Subaru is recalling nearly 634,000 sedans, wagons, and crossovers due to an electrical problem that could lead to a vehicle fire. Subaru says it will notify owners of 633,842 relatively late-model vehicles they may be subject to a recall, though only about 54,000 of those Subaru products will actually need to undergo repairs. “There have been no incidents of injury or accidents,” according to Subaru spokesman Mike McHale, though the maker has received word of “less than 10” incidents where the short did occur, resulting in smoke. So far, no vehicle has actually caught fire. Subaru’s recall involves defective puddle lamp wiring, but it has been unable to clearly identify which vehicles those are because the lamps were installed by dealers and no accurate and complete records exist. As a result, Subaru will contact owners of all 2009 through 2012 Forester and 2006 through 2012 Tribeca crossovers, as well as 2010 and 2011 Legacy and Outback models asking them to see if they have the optional puddle lamps. Those who do will need repairs. Those unsure may go to a dealer for inspection. Read more about Subaru’s recall here.

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