WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. — December’s new-vehicle retail selling rate remains robust as the close of 2012 approaches, with potential buyers seemingly unfazed by the economic uncertainty generated by the fiscal cliff negotiations in Washington, D.C., J.D. Power and Associates’ Power Information Network (PIN) and LMC Automotive.

December new-vehicle retail sales are expected to total 1,152,500 units, which would put the seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) at 12.2 million units. Additionally, December’s selling rate is 500,000 units higher than the expected 2012 full-year rate.

Luxury-vehicle sales are on pace to account for 16 percent of all retail vehicles sold in December, an increase from 15.3 percent in November 2012 and 14.8 percent in December 2011. Luxury share in December is the highest in 2012 and the highest since December 2009, when it reached 16.2 percent.

“Luxury sales always do well this time of the year, but December is turning out to be a great month,” said John Humphrey, senior vice president of global automotive operations at J.D. Power and Associates. “New and re-designed vehicle introductions, along with enhanced incentive activity, have been key drivers of the recovery in the luxury market.”


U.S. Retail SAAR—December 2011 to December 2012

(in millions of units)


Total light-vehicle sales in December 2012 are projected to increase 14 percent from December 2011, with volume at 1,358,600 units. Fleet mix is expected to reach 15 percent, which is consistent with a managed supply and demand market, and is the sixth consecutive month below 20 percent.

J.D. Power and LMC Automotive U.S. Sales and SAAR Comparisons


December 20121

November 2012

December 2011

New-Vehicle Retail Sales

1,152,500 units2

(15% higher than December 2011)

953,449 units

1,040,035 units

Total Vehicle Sales

1,358,600 units

(14% higher than December 2011)

1,141,696 units

1,240,263 units

Retail SAAR

12.2 million units

13.2 million units

11.3 million units

Total SAAR

15.3 million units

15.4 million units

13.5 million units

1Figures cited for December 2012 are forecasted based on the first 13 selling days of the month.

2The percentage change is adjusted based on the number of selling days in the month (26 days in December 2012 vs. 27 days in December 2011).

Based on strong sales in November and early December, LMC Automotive is edging up its 2012 forecast for total light-vehicle sales in the United States to 14.5 million units from 14.4 million units. The firm maintained its forecast for retail sales at 11.7 million units. The forecast for 2013 remains 15 million units for total light-vehicles and 12.2 million for retail sales, but represents a slower growth rate of 4 percent from 2012.

“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.”




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