By Jeff Gilbert

SOUTHFIELD, MI — (WWJ) As we await final car sales numbers for 2012, the auto consulting firm R.L. Polk is projecting even stronger sales in 2013.

“We’re anticipating that new vehicle registrations will likely reach the 15.3 million volume range,” says Anthony Pratt, director of forecasting for the Americas at Polk. “That’s roughly a 6.6 percent increase over 2012. The industry continues to look strong.”

INTERVIEW: Jeff Gilbert talks with Polk analyst Anthony Pratt.

Polk expects North American Production to increase to 15.9 million units.

The rate of growth will be steady, Pratt says, but slower than 2012. Final car sales numbers for 2012 don’t come out until Thursday. Polk expects total sales for the year to be in the 14.5 million range.

While there is some economic uncertainty, Pratt says that will be offset by strong pent up demand. Polk data puts the average age of a car now on the road at 11.3 years.

“People have held on to vehicles for many years, and they are in a position to replace them.”

They should have a lot of choices. Polk expects 43 new vehicle introductions in 2013, and 60 redesigns of current vehicles.

“You can imagine that a lot of marketing money will be spent to promote those products, and hopefully create excitement in the showroom, and draw new buyers into the market,” says Pratt.

2013 should be a good year for pickup sales. New models from GM, Ford and Toyota should create interest, Pratt says, and also mean good deals on outgoing models.

Long term, Pratt sees sales growing past 16 million units, and stabilizing at that rate. He doesn’t see a return to the pre-recession 17 million sales rates. But those rates came at a big cost. Car companies built vehicles just to keep factories open, and were forced to sell them at deep discounts.

Things have changed since then.

“The overcapacity issue has been addressed,” said Pratt. “The domestics are in a much better position as it relates to capacity. They are in a much better position as it relates to their contract with the union.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Twitter: @jefferygilbert


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