Analysts believe that auto sales in the US reached the highest level since 1973 as consumers had to replace their aging vehicles.

December auto sales are expected to have risen 9.8% according to a Bloomberg survey of analysts, which would mean a third-straight annual gain of at least 10%, the first since 1973.

“It sure feels a lot better to be selling cars today than a few years ago,” Geoffrey Pohanka, president of the Pohanka Automotive Group, said in a telephone interview. “The age of the fleet and the attractiveness of a lot of cars that are being designed now are going to help sustain sales going forward.”

According to estimates of 10 analysts, US light-vehicle sales last month have most likely reached 1.37 million, pushing sales for the entire 2012 to 14.5 million, the highest annual figure since 2007. The main reason for the December increase was the customers’ necessity to replace their vehicles destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, which hit the East Coast. Credit Suisse Group AG estimated that the superstorm Sandy brought an increase of 50,000 vehicles last month.

Here are the estimates for car and light-truck sales in the US:

GM     Ford   Chrysler   SAAR


Rod Lache                     3%      -2%      9%      15.1

(Deutsche Bank)

Peter Nesvold                 0%     1.2%     7.3%     15.3


Patrick Archambault          1.4%    3.0%     6.4%     15.5

(Goldman Sachs)

Chris Ceraso                 2.0%    3.1%     8.1%     15.5

(Credit Suisse)

Emmanuel Rosner              0.3%    0.7%     5.1%     15.4


Brian Johnson                6.7%    0.6%     10%      15.5


Joseph Spak                  2.6%    0.8%     7.1%     15.6


Ryan Brinkman                 NA      NA       NA      15.4


John Sousanis                 4%      1%       9%      15.7


George Magliano               NA      NA       NA      15.2

(IHS Automotive)

Jeff Schuster                 NA      NA       NA      15.3

(LMC Automotive)

Alan Baum                     NA      NA       NA      15.4

(Baum & Associates)

Jessica Caldwell             1.5%    1.6%     7.3%     15.4


Jesse Toprak                 0.9%    2.6%     8.8%     15.6


Alec Gutierrez               0.4%    0.3%     5.9%     15.2

(Kelley Blue Book)


Average                      2.1%    1.2%     7.6%     15.4



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