Car Sales Momentum Expected To Continue In January

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jeffgilbert Jeff Gilbert
Automotive reporter for WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBS Radio News....
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DETROIT — (WWJ) We are expecting another strong showing from car companies, as they report their January sales figures today.

“Sales are still looking strong,” says Edmunds.com analyst Jessica Caldwell. “People are still going and buying cars. People are still shopping online. I think overall we are carrying that momentum into 2013, and that’s good news.”

Edmunds.com expects sales to be up about 15 percent, year to year. January sales, however, did slow some from December’s torrid pace.

The industry traditionally sees sales fall from December to January, as there are fewer special deals, and buyers don’t have as much extra time to shop.

Taking that into account, Caldwell expects January sales to come in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about 15.3 million units. That would be a continuation of the strong showing that we saw the last few months of 2012.

Caldwell says the industry is showing strength pretty much across the board.

“Traditionally in the winter time, SUV’s and trucks do a lot better,” she said. “But, we’re still seeing small cars doing well.”

Chrysler is expected to post another year over year sales increase. Ford is also expected to have a very strong month, and has already said it will be a great month for hybrid sales.

Japanese carmakers are expected to continue their strong showing, as they rebound from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

“January is off to a very good start,” said Jesse Toprak, senior analyst for Truecar.com. “This momentum will carry forward through the rest of the year, with auto sales expected to reach 15.5 million units.”

Truecar.com analyst Kristen Andersson says car companies have maintained solid sales rates, while also keeping close control of their incentive spending.

“Automakers are kicking off the year strong, staying true to disciplined incentive spending as many curtailed their spending in January as the current lineup of products speak for themselves.”

While there have been concerns that slow economic growth could derail car and truck sales, it hasn’t happened yet. With the average car and truck on the road now more than 11 years old, analysts say pent-up demand remains very strong.

“A lot of people out there need cars,” says Caldwell of Edmunds.com. “Regardless of what’s going on, they need to get to work or school, or wherever they need to go. So, they are purchasing–I think–regardless of what the bigger picture looks like.”

Chrysler is generally the first company to report its car sales (around 8 AM.) GM and Ford will have their reports in by 10 AM. Follow Jeff Gilbert’s Twitter Feed (@jefferygilbert) for instant updates.

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