Shiny outlook for U.S. car sales in 2012

Bob Moon Jan 4, 2012

Steve Chiotakis:There’s word today from Chrysler that sales in the U.S. were up for the year by 26 percent — 37 percent for December alone. Other big automakers will be reporting today on their sales for the month, and for the year. Latest signs from those makers have shown us sales are improving, and analysts say pent-up demand is feeding steady growth.

Will that extend into 2012 and beyond? Here’s Marketplace’s Bob Moon.

Bob Moon: Happy “New Car Year!” That’s what 2012 is shaping up to be for longtime car-buying holdouts. Jeff Schuster is a market forecaster at LMC Automotive. He credits, in part, easy financing that was so elusive for so long.

Jeff Schuster: Even if they wanted a vehicle, credit just essentially froze up for a period of time.

Schuster says the average American car is now 11 years old, and replacing all those old wrecks could boost sales by roughly a million vehicles this year — to nearly 14 million.

At the consumer-research website, chief economist Lacey Plache points out millions of the so-called millennials are finally entering the market.

Lacey Plache: They really have just begun to get their feet wet, in terms of being new car buyers. trend watcher Jesse Toprak says American carmakers haven’t just revamped their models, but their entire image.

Jesse Toprak: The way the industry recovered, based on the merits of its products, has been a very healthy and sustainable recovery path.

And with carmakers looking to add thousands of new jobs, that bodes well for a more prosperous new year.

I’m Bob Moon for Marketplace.

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