J.D. Power and its LMC Automotive division say December is going to cap the year nicely, meaning, apparently, that shoppers aren't too worried about driving -- “Thelma and Louise”-style -- off the economic cliff.
Based on how the month looks now, the market research company thinks December will be even better, with 1,152,500 new vehicles delivered to owners. The current selling rate -- seasonally adjusted and extrapolated to the year -- represents 500,000 units higher than the expected 2012 full-year rate.
Luxury sales, which tend to do well in December as automakers offer deals and boost advertising (think cars with bow ties), are likely to end up as 16% of all retail vehicles sold this month, per the firm. That would be 1.2% over the month last year. It is also the best month for luxury this year, as well as the best since the month in 2009, when luxury was 16.2% of the market.
Said John Humphrey, SVP of global automotive operations at J.D. Power & Associates: “New and redesigned vehicle introductions, along with enhanced incentive activity, have been key drivers of the recovery in the luxury market.”
Because of last month and this month's sales, LMC Automotive is upping the numbers for the full-year prediction: 14.5 million units from 14.4 million units, with retail (fleet sales cut out of the equation) being around 11.7 million units. Next year, per LMC, sales will continue up the ladder. The firm is betting 2013 will see delivery of around 15 million new vehicles, with 12.2 million of those going into people's garages.
“The U.S. light-vehicle sales market continues to be a bright spot in the tremulous global environment,” said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive. “The only major roadblock ahead for the U.S. market is the fiscal cliff. 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.”