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USA December 2012: Predicted at +9%, best year since 2007

2014 Chevrolet Silverado. GM went hard on pick-up truck incentives this month to draw down their 139 days of inventory ahead of the introduction of 2014-model trucks in Q2 2013.

* NOW UPDATED with new predictions. See the full article by clicking on the title! *

Automotive News published another round of predictions for the US new car market in December ahead of carmakers' official figures on Thursday. Sales are expected to rise by 9% year-on-year, capping off the best year for new car sales in the country since 2007. 2012 is predicted to finish at 14.5 million vehicles, a 13% growth over 2011 and impressively the third consecutive year of double-digit year-on-year gain in the US.

Manhattan, Tuesday 30 October 2012. Picture by TheAustralian.com.au

The industry also got a boost from sales that were delayed due to Hurricane Sandy, reported Automotive News. Barclays Capital analyst Brian Johnson estimated that 25,000 to 30,000 vehicles sold this month were delayed from November due to Superstorm Sandy. "We note, however, that we do not expect post-storm replacement demand to persist much beyond January," Johnson said.

So a strong December, but the start of 2013 may be different. Automotive News says "gains in 2013 are expected to slow to single-digit growth, with several analysts forecasting only modest improvements in U.S. consumer confidence and employment." Indeed the strong end of year could be overshadowed by concerns that consumers will curb spending in January due to the "fiscal cliff".

Lexus LS600h. Luxury brands have also benefitted from strong incentives this month in the US.

AN reports that "U.S. consumer confidence fell to a 4-month low in December on worries over the $600 billion in automatic spending cuts and tax increases that take effect unless Congress acts to stop them". Strong incentives on GM full-size pickups and an excellent performance from luxury brands are the other two headlines for December new car sales in the US...

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