Edmunds: 2013 U.S. Autos Slightly Better Than 2012

Silverado-B

Auto pundits see an increase in auto sales next year, but it won't be stupendous. Edmunds.com says growth will remain in the single digits -- a plateau compared to 2012, when the market was in full recovery mode.

Edmunds.com, in its year-end prediction, forecasts delivery of 15 million new cars next year, up merely 4% versus this year. It should be noted that the big increase this year versus a still-recessionary 2011 was like climbing out of steerage on a ladder. Going forward, it will be more like a causeway to the cabins. But up is better than down, and the Web-based auto shopping, pricing, and research site says manufacturers are bullish.

“What’s especially encouraging is the current competitive strength among the automakers," says Edmunds.com's' chief economist Lacey Plache in a statement. He says consumers will win as automakers launch new vehicles and compete to win customers. 

The site also predicts that a large population of people coming back to dealerships with expired leases will dump half a million car buyers on the market. But the new car market will also be impinged upon by those same lease terminations. That's because all those off-lease cars will go straight to auction. And that means lower prices for used cars. That actually began this year, and didn't do much to hurt new-car sales, but it could next year. Edmunds.com sees the average used-car price falling $200-$300 per vehicle. 

On the other hand, consumer confidence tracks housing values, and those are headed up. And as Plache points out, when people feel flush, they go to the showroom. "Rising home prices make consumers feel wealthier, which translates into greater consumer confidence to make large purchases such as a new car."

How about pickup trucks, which were a tad soft this year, as gasoline prices and sluggish construction kept the flatbeds empty? The firm points out that with stronger housing values, construction will be up, and contractors can't move 2x4s with a Camry. Also, Chevrolet and GMC are stirring the pot with new Silverado and Sierra pickups, respectively. And as Edmunds points out, that helps all manufacturers because boosting interest for one vehicle increases consumers' propensity to cross-shop, and that will be good for Ram and Ford F-150.

 

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