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Good News Abounds For Auto Sales As 2011 Winds Down

Dec 09, 2011

November new car and truck sales were at their best monthly rate since August of 2009, when Cash-for-Clunkers was in full swing. The surge is partially credited to Black Friday shoppers, who turned out at some of their highest levels in recent years to take advantage of great deals. Auto sales in the United States climbed 14 percent in November as lower gas prices and a wider availability of Japanese models helped the industry achieve its highest selling rate in more than two years—nearly 1 million vehicles. That translates into a seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate of more than 13.6 million units—about 200,000 more than analysts had been expecting. With analysts projecting that December will be even better; the industry is closing the year strong, despite continued sluggishness in the nation’s economy. Consumers and businesses are finding they can no longer put off replacing their vehicles, which are now an average of almost 11 years old, a record. If current sales trends persist, automakers are poised to sell vehicles at an annual pace of more than 14 million by the second half of 2012.Sales Of Midsize Cars Shrink As Buyers Go Smaller Midsize sedans have been America’s favorite cars for decades, but more people are choosing small cars because they’re worried about gas prices and car payments. Small cars are no longer the cramped vehicles of 20 or 30 years ago. Now, they have many of the same features as larger cars. According to J.D. Power & Associates, compact cars will outsell midsize ones as early as this year, something that hasn’t happened in at least two decades. Just five years ago, automakers sold nearly 250,000 more midsize cars than compact cars in the U.S.; but by 2015, J.D. Power expects compact and subcompact cars to command 20 percent of sales, while midsize cars will account for just 14 percent. Today’s small cars are cheaper than their midsize counterparts and far roomier than small cars of recent years. The Environmental Protection Agency defines compact cars as having 100 to 109 cubic feet of passenger and cargo space, while midsize cars have 110 to 119 cubic feet.