By Jeff Gilbert

LOS ANGELES — (WWJ) There are a lot of new cars and trucks on display at this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show.  And, it looks like there will be customers to buy them.

“I think we can look forward to continued good years ahead of us<” said Ford President of the Americas Joe Hinrichs.

By “good years” Hinrich isn’t referring to peak sales rates of 17 and a half million vehicles a year.   He sees sales reaching the 16 million level next year, maybe a little higher, and leveling off.

The sales rates of five and six years ago were fueled by big incentives.   Kelly  Blue Book analyst Alec Gutierrez says a healthy sales rate of 16 million is much better for the industry.

“We are at a point where we are at very near, and next year may pass pre recession levels of sales,” he said.    “So, the industry’s very healthy.  Transaction prices are north of thirty thousand dollars on average.  So, we seem to be at a good point to stabilize.”

The number of high end vehicles displayed at the LA show—as well as the variety of vehicles–Gutierrez says, is an example of a confident industry.

Chrysler sales chief Reid Bigland sees ending on a strong note, and the momentum carrying the industry into 2014.

“I don’t have a crystal ball, but I think the underlying drivers of the new vehicle sales industry of credit–both availability and interest rates–pent up demand and the general improving economy,  are still intact.  With those drivers intact, I see continued growth in the sales industry in the United States.”

Not only will sales remain strong, says chief economist Lacey Plache, but we’ll continue to see strong sales of larger, more profitable vehicles.

“The housing market recovery, combined with stable gas prices and new models in the truck segment really lead people to return to that segment, really in a way they hadn’t in post recession years.  So, I think trucks will be strong.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Twitter: @jefferygilbert


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