By Jeff Gilbert

TROY, MI — (WWJ) A top forecasting firm is increasing its 2013 sales forecast from 15.1 to 15.3 million units.

LMC Automotive Senior Vice President of Forecasting Jeff Schuster says strong sales in the first six weeks of the new year are setting a positive tone.

“With the robust pace that we’re seeing now, looking at a two month patern here, and the expectation and likelyhood that we will see the situation with the economy and the overall enviorment improve throughout 2013, we are expecting to see car sales and vehicles sales in general to improve as the year goes on.”

Interview: WWJ AutoBeat Reporter Jeff Gilbert talks with Jeff Schuster of LMC Automotive.

Schuster admits the forecast is conservative, and could be upgraded if sales remain solid.

“Y’know, we’re certainly leaving some room,” he said. “There is further upward momentum possibile. I think there’s still a few areas of uncertaity out there.”

That uncertainty includes the ongoing budget debate in Washington, and rising gasoline prices. Schuster says, so far, there’s been no impact on car or truck sales.

In fact, Schuster says the sales momentum the industry saw in January continued into February. LMC projects sales will be up 7 percent over February of 2012. also sees a sales rise in February.

“Car sales are persevering despite economic factors on people’s minds like rising gas prices and the implementation of the payroll tax,” says Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell. ‘Pent-up demand and widespread access to credit are keeping up car sales momentum.”

Caldwell projects all three domestic companies will post sales increases, with Chrysler and Ford leading the way.

The February car sales reports will be released on March 1st. It’s expected to be a strong month for fleet sales, but dealership traffic is also solid, indicating health in the underlying economy.

“All signs of the industry’s health are positive right now,” said John Humphrey, senior vice president of the global automotive practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “Average transaction prices are up, incentives are stable, leasing is at a healthy level and newly redesigned models continue to make an impact on the marketplace.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Twitter: @jefferygilbert


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