The major automakers have released their December sales numbers and the numbers are impressive. Good results from all the major auto companies close the door on a very strong 2012.
For the month of December, General Motors (GM) saw a 5% jump in sales versus the same month last year, while Ford (F) saw a 1,6% increase in sales, and Toyota's (TM) sales skyrocketed 9%. While Toyota's December sales increase is impressive to say the least, we must also remember that Decemeber 2011 was very weak due to supply problems resulting from the earthquake and subsequent tsunami which rocked Japan.
During the year, automakers sold 14.5 million vehicles, a 13% jump from the same period last year. It marks the best year for the industry since 2007, before the recent recession took its toll on the entire industry.
All of the major automakers had impressive full-year sales growth, with Toyota's annual numbers jumping 16.6%, GM rising 3.7% and Ford up 4.7%.
These sales increases came despite economic concerns that lasted through the majority of the year, and analysts expect to see the strength carry over into 2013.
One thing that always helps drive people to car lots is when a new model of a vehicle is released, and this year we expect to see many new models hit the lots. According to the Polk auto research firm, we could see sales of 15.3 vehicles during the current year, helped in part by an expected 43 new vehicle introductions during the year. If that estimate holds true, it would mark a 50% jump in new introductions versus what we saw during the 2012 model year.
Polk believes that the mid-sized sedan segment is going to lead the industry in coming years. The segment already represents 18.5% of the market, and is expected to extend that share in the current year.
If the auto industry continues to improve as most analysts expect, it is a strong indicator that the overall economy will continue to improve as well. Of course, a lot of the forecasts are dependent on the outcome of the upcoming debate on the debt ceiling and scheduled budget cuts, but overall the future is looking strong for the industry.
Michael Fowlkes is a financial writer who has been with the Fresh Brewed Media family since 2004. Over the course of his tenure with Fresh Brewed Media, he has worn many hats, including portfolio manager, options analyst, and writer. Michael received his undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech in Accounting and got his start in finance working as a stock trader for six years at Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Va. His articles typically cover big-picture events and forecasting what impact they will have on the stock market. In addition to writing for Fresh Brewed Media, Michael also wrote for AOL's BloggingStocks for three years, focusing most of his attention on the energy and technology sectors.