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, 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.