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Report: New-vehicle sales come in strong for year’s end

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Dec. 29, 2011—December new-vehicle retail sales are projected to come in at 1,033,700 units—the first time retail sales will surpass 1 million units since the Cash for Clunker program drove strong sales in August 2009, according to a new report.

The report was developed by global marketing information services firm J.D. Power and Associates Power Information Network and LMC Automotive. The volume represents a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 11.2 million units.

“Retail light-vehicle sales in December are performing well month-to-date, even as total incentive spending averages $2,700, down 10 percent from December 2010,” said John Humphrey, senior vice president of global automotive operations at J.D. Power and Associates. “The industry has managed through another series of external shocks and is in a healthier position as the year closes.”

Year-over-year total light-vehicle sales are expected to be eight percent higher than in December 2010 – a total of 1,230,100 units. Fleet sales are also expected to increase by 1 percent from December of last year to this month.

LMC Automotive forecasts 10.3 million units for retail light-vehicle sales and 12.7 million units for total light-vehicle sales. The group expects 2012 to see 13.8 million in total light-vehicle sales, and 11.3 million units for retail light-vehicle sales.

“For the third straight time, light-vehicle sales are posting strong selling rates at the close of the year,” said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive. “Next year, the automotive industry will look to build upon the strong finish to 2011, but the real test in 2012 will be weathering a summer selling slowdown and posting a full year of a progressive recovery.”

The report also explains that North American light-vehicle production jumped more than 9 percent through November 2011 from the same month last year. More than one million units have been built so far this year.

“Recovery efforts are nearly complete for Honda and Toyota after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and flooding in Thailand limited their ability to maintain a normal production schedule,” the report states. “To date, production for Honda and Toyota is down by almost 16 percent. Japanese manufacturers, collectively, are down 7 percent from 2010. Hyundai Group production is up 47 percent with its continued North American production localization efforts. The Detroit 3 OEMs are experiencing a nearly 15 percent increase in year-to-date production, while European OEMs are up 37 percent.”

Inventory for vehicles was at a 61-day supply, from 58 days at the beginning of last month. Meanwhile, vehicle inventory improved to a 59-day supply, which spiked from 51 days the month before. Truck inventory levels have a 63-day supply, up from 62 days in November.

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