January 2011 Sales Figures and Analysis

With the first month of 2011 done with, a lot of eyes are on the automotive sector of our economy.  New-car sales figures are used by some as a bellwether of the national economy.  If consumers are spending money on new cars, it means they are happy and secure in their jobs, have some sort of savings, and are willing to spend some of their precious income.  When times are rougher, people obviously will forgo buying a new car until their situation improves.

After December’s fairly healthy sales volume, I didn’t expect a whole lot for January, but I was pleasantly surprised that over 815,000 new vehicles were sold.  This is a big bump over January of 2010, which saw sales of only 699,000 new vehicles.

Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, Jeep, and Toyota saw big increases over 2010’s January sales, while GMC, Hyundai and Nissan had smaller – but still notable – increases.  Meanwhile, Lexus and Mazda saw significant declines, which is somewhat puzzling, but hopefully just a speed bump for each company.

With 815,000 vehicles sold in January, I am predicting 12.5-13 million new vehicle sales this year.  I’m trying to be conservative, given the 11.5-million new vehicle sales for the US in 2010.  That’s an increase of 8.5% to 13%, for those of you keeping track at home.

Lots of new 2012 model year vehicles are expected to make their debuts this year, so the market could surprise me and do better than I expect, but I doubt it, based on what I’ve seen in the last 2 years.

by John Suit

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