US: December could bring record spending on new cars image

Automakers in the US are expected to end the year with a bang, sales expected to be up at least 4% from December 2012 – with the industry anticipating all-time record consumer spending.

While new-vehicle sales started off slowly in December, they are expected to finish strong at the end of the month, according to a monthly sales forecast developed jointly by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.

“Strong consumer demand in December is the culmination of another strong year for the automotive industry,” said John Humphrey, senior vice president of the global automotive practice at J.D. Power. “Retail sales in 2013 are expected to reach 12.8 million, with consumer spending reaching a record $375 billion, a $40 billion increase from 2012.”

Consumers in the U.S. are expected to spend more than $34 billion on new vehicles in December, a historic high for the month. That reflects not just the end-of-year sales burst but also record transaction prices, according to the forecast.

The optimism was reinforced by a new report from the U.S. Department of Commerce, which indicated the U.S. economy was expanding more rapidly than first thought. The Commerce Department now estimates the U.S. economy grew by 4.1% during the third quarter.

Total light-vehicle sales in December are expected to reach 1.4 million, a 4% increase from December 2012, with an additional, if more modest, year-over-year increase in fleet volume. Fleet share of total light-vehicle sales in December remains below 17% compared to 17.6% for the year as a whole.

Added up, total light-vehicle sales for 2013 should finish at 15.6 million units. LMC Automotive has increased its total and retail light-vehicle sales forecasts for 2014 each by 100,000 to 16.2 million and 13.3 million units, respectively.