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2012 Looks Bright For U.S. Auto Sales, Economists Say

Jan 31, 2012

Economists predict auto sales around 13.5 million to 14 million vehicles in 2012, and NADA chief economist Paul Taylor predicts light trucks will outsell cars again in 2012. Also, as the average trade-in value of a three-year-old used car is 8 percent higher in January 2012 compared to January 2011, the trend of higher trade-in values is expected to continue throughout the year, according to NADA. NADA cites three key factors for the increase:(1) Aging vehicles, (2) Affordable credit, and(3) Aggressive incentives. A key factor that will drive new-vehicle sales in 2012 is pent-up demand in the marketplace caused by more consumers shopping out of necessity to replace their aging vehicles. With the age of cars and trucks on the road today at nearly 11 years, consumers will have a more difficult time delaying the purchase of a new or newer vehicle. Another factor that is likely to result in higher auto sales this year is the availability of affordable credit from competing lending sources for auto loans. Interest rates on new car loans are expected to remain historically low in 2012, due in part to policy decisions by the Federal Reserve Board to keep rates low and the U.S. economy growing, according to Mr. Taylor.