Automakers forecast slower growth in 2012 in the U.S. image

Predictions for growth in the U.S. auto industry are rather pessimistic for 2012, with automakers expecting a slower sales pace than last year.

Even though in 2011 GM, Ford and Chrysler sales rose 5 percent, 10 percent and 37 percent, respectively, U.S. carmakers forecast lower growth for this year.

U.S. auto sales for full-year 2011 will most likely reach 12.8 million, which would account for a 10 percent increase compared to 2010. For this year however, GM, Ford and Volkswagen expect growth to increase at a lower rate. While GM and VW expect U.S. sales of 13.5 million to 14 million (5 percent – 9 percent growth), Ford forecasts 13.2 million to 14.2 million, excluding medium and heavy-duty trucks.

According to industry research firm TrueCar.com, U.S. auto sales in 2012 will reach 14 million, still much lower than the nearly 17 million in U.S. auto sales averaged in a 10-year period through 2007. “It’s now clear that auto sales should continue to grow in 2012, barring a shock to the system,” GM U.S. sales chief Don Johnson said in a statement.

Volkswagen of America president Jonathan Browning said the automaker chose to give a forecast range for 2012 sales because of uncertainties including the debt crisis in Europe and the U.S. presidential election.