Will December Car Sales Foreshadow the 2013 Auto Market?

ford focusThe U.S. auto industry has had a good 2012. In fact, despite strong economic headwinds, it’s been the best year since 2007. Overall 2012 sales are expected to come in at 14.5 million units, a 13 percent gain over 2011, and expectations for December are looking even better.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters forecast an annual sales pace of about 15.2 million vehicles for December. Truecar.com is forecasting month-over-month sales growth of over 20 percent for each of America’s top three manufacturers, General Motors (NYSE:GM), Ford (NYSE:F), and Chrysler.Combined with strong sales growth from other major manufacturers, this translates into a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 15.6 million for the month, a 14.7 percent increase year over year. U.S. sales for Toyota (NYSE:TM), which accounts for about 14 percent of the market, are expected to grow 16.5 percent month over month.

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Kristen Andersson, an analyst for TrueCar.com, comments that “automakers were able to curb their incentive spending while still improving sales. The average incentive spending per unit for 2012 was at its lowest levels since 2002 when auto sales were at 16.8 million.”

But it’s not all good news for the auto industry. Moody’s expects that low demand in Europe will continue to hurt global auto industry growth in 2013…