U.S. automakers prepare for a sales boost image

Returning from the bleak days of the recession, the manufacturers active on the North American Market prepare for a surge in demand, as the economy strengthens and old cars will be scrambled.

Following the reported new record of the average age of the U.S. cars, analysts predict auto sales to exceed even the most ambitious expectations, even after they faired really well in the past year.

“The average car out there right now is something like 11.4 years old. That’s twice what it used to be,” noted Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book. “So you’ve got a lot of pent-up demand. I literally see it as almost like a dam that’s waiting to burst,” Brauer said.

The automakers plan to spend $434 million to boost vehicle production capacity, according to Brauer. Ford is adding 1,200 jobs and another shift to produce the Ford Fusion at its Flat Rock plant and General Motors is investing $167 million in its Spring Hill plant, Brauer noted. Nissan is building a second assembly plant in Mexico where it plans to produce its Murano crossover vehicle next year, and it plans to build Sentra models in Canton, Missouri and its Rogue models in Smyrna, Tennessee – according to te analyst.

Less expensive and more fuel-efficient compact cars tend to do well among younger drivers, so Mazda plans to ramp up production of its vehicles in that category: Mazda 2 and 3. The automaker is investing $120 million in an engine plant in Mexico, and its vehicle manufacturing plant there is expected to start rolling out the Mazda 2 and Mazda 3 in the first quarter of 2014.

Besides the age of their current car, more attractive styling, in-vehicle technology and better gas mileage could also be major drivers of better-than-expected auto sales in the next six to 18 months, according to Brauer.