Car sales continue on the rebound
MARC VALEOSEBRING - U.S. car sales revved up in 2012 to the highest volume in five years with local dealerships also reporting an upswing in the sales of cars and trucks.
Published: January 8, 2013
Published: January 8, 2013
Light-vehicle sales in the U.S. in 2012 totaled 14.5 million units, up 13 percent from 2011.
Automakers sold 1.4 million cars and light trucks in December, which was 9 percent above a strong December in 2011.
Counting new and used vehicles, 2012 was Wells Motor Co.'s best year since 2007, said Stanley Wells, owner of the Avon Park dealership.
"It was our best year ever in new car sales," he said.
Wells attributed the banner year to the improvement in Chrysler products since 2008-09.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee has been selling very well, he said, and the 2013 Ram 1500 is the (Motor Trend) Truck of the Year. After a slow start, the new Dodge Dart is selling well, he added.
"There are a lot of things going for us," Wells said. "The minivan is still a huge seller for us."
December was the dealership's second-best month in 2012 for new and used vehicle sales, Wells said. May was the best month of 2012.
"With the December we just had, I haven't seen any signs of anything slowing down," he said. Unless something "really crazy" happens, it looks like sales will continue to improve in 2013, he added.
The Alan Jay Automotive Network saw sales increase nearly 10 percent in 2012 over 2011, but nowhere near the sales of 2006, said Don Elwell, the network's director of marketing and public relations.
"It was certainly a much stronger year and we have a lot of optimism going into 2013," he said. December was much better than December 2011.
That week between Christmas and New Year's Eve is traditionally a busy week in the car industry and last year it was bust as well, Elwell noted, as businesses made their last-minute, year-end purchases.
"We are seeing some growing consumer optimism, not a whole lot, but a little bit," he said. Also, banks are easing their credit restrictions, so compared to a couple of years ago, more people are qualifying for financing now, he said.
Popular models include the new Ford Fusion and Nissan Ultima, the brand new Cadillac ATS and Buick Verano, Elwell said. The Toyota Camry continues to be a big seller.
The Ford trucks with the EcoBoost engines are popular due to their fuel economy without sacrificing power, he added.
Bill Jarrett Ford-Mercury General Manager Doug Gentry said, "I was up 4 percent over last year , which was great."
It was the best sales in the past four years, he said.
"I am still [primarily] a truck store here at this location and I think there was a little more commercial business this year than we had seen in the past two years, which is hopefully giving a ray of sunshine that our economy is picking up a little bit here," Gentry said.
Ford now has some good, strong 6-cylinder engines with good fuel economy, which they hadn't had in the past, he noted.
Among the dealership's best selling cars, "The Ford Fusion has been incredible this year along with the Ford Focus," Gentry said.
After dipping to 10.4 million in 2009, light-vehicle sales in the U.S., increased 11 percent in 2010, 10 percent in 2011 and 13 percent in 2012, which marked the biggest one-year jump in decades.
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