New light-vehicle sales in the States are gradually recovering from the slump that began in 2007 with the global credit crunch and will continue to grow in 2013, albeit at a slower pace than previous years, according to most automotive analysts.
Edmunds.com projects 15 million new car sales in 2013, a four percent increase over 2012, which is expected to end with around 14.5 million units. It will be the first time since 2007 that the U.S. market will surpass the 15 million sales mark.
Of course, this largely depends on what will happen at the edge of the "fiscal cliff" and whether Congress will work out a deal to avoid it or allow the economy to get in trouble again.
"The only major roadblock ahead for the U.S. market is the fiscal cliff," Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive, told Automotive News. "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."
Lacey Plache, Chief Economist for Edmunds.com, said she is also optimistic about 2013: "What's especially encouraging is the current competitive strength among the automakers. Consumers will continue to benefit from exciting new models and technologies - and potentially lower prices - as automakers continue to battle for market share."
Other trends that Plache expects to see in the automotive industry next year include lower prices for used cars as around half a million leases end in 2012, and an increase in sales of trucks as the housing and building industry pick up steam.
Industry Trends for 2013 from Edmunds:
- Lease Terminations Flood the Market - Edmunds.com projects that there will be as many as 500,000 more car buyers coming off leases in 2013 than in 2012. That's 500,000 more potential new car customers to buttress the remaining pent-up demand.
- Used Car Prices Softening - Those lease terminations should have a ripple effect on the auto industry -- especially on used cars. Off-lease vehicles and more trade-ins will flood the used car market and help to bring down prices. Edmunds.com expects the average used car price to fall $200-$300 per vehicle in 2013, which will continue the price drop we saw this year after used car prices peaked in 2011.
- Housing Resurgence Creates 'Wealth Effect' - Housing prices are starting to rise, and this should continue in 2013. And while that's good news for the economy in general, it spells even more good news for the automotive market. Dr. Plache puts it best: "Rising home prices make consumers feel wealthier, which translates into greater consumer confidence to make large purchases such as a new car."
- The Year of the Truck - Somebody needs to build those houses, right? And when construction booms, so too does the market for pickup trucks, which are favored by builders and contractors. GM recently unveiled its upcoming line of 2014 Chevy and GMC pickups, which will only push the competitive juices of Ram and Ford. So, while 2012 saw a renaissance in small and midsize cars, there's every indication that in 2013 trucks will regain some their lost market share.