US Auto Sales to Reach 15 Million Units in 2013 image

Although analysts predict auto sales in the US will surpass 15 million units in 2013 for the first time since 2007, most forecasts say sales will also slow.

Some optimists even expect sales next year to surpass 16 million, but currently automakers are struggling to end 2012 on a strong note. Although GM and several other companies are offering big incentives to clear out inventories, analysts and dealers say that sales this month until now have been slightly lower than it was anticipated, after the unexpected robust November.

According to LMC Automotive, sales in December are expected to reach 14.5 million, an increase of 14%, and the industry will reach its second-biggest selling rate of 2012 this month, after November’s 15.6 million.

“November was busier than normal, but December slowed down a little bit more,” said Danny Leach, a sales manager at Shore Toyota in Mays Landing, N.J., where customers have been replacing vehicles damaged by Hurricane Sandy. “Right after Christmas we’ll see a big increase.”

Even if automakers are expected to sell more than 15 million vehicles next year, 2013 is still facing some uncertainty related to the spending cuts and federal taxes, known as the ‘fiscal cliff”, which are to take effect at the end of this month.

“The only major roadblock ahead for the U.S. market is the fiscal cliff,” said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive. “Assuming that hurdle is cleared, 2013 is one step closer to a stable and sustainable growth rate for autos, with volume above the 15 million unit mark.”