Automakers see huge sales gains in January

Americans had no problems buying cars last month, even as consumer confidence waned and paychecks got a bit smaller.

By Kim Peterson Feb 1, 2013 3:02PM
Image: Car shopping ( Image Source/Corbis)Updated 6:30 p.m. ET

Auto sales were on fire for all of 2012, and haven't slowed one bit in the new year.

Automakers saw double-digit sales growth in January, even though consumer confidence waned and paychecks grew smaller as payroll taxes increased.

But several factors were working in automakers' favor. Cars on U.S. roads are nearly 11 years old, on average, and drivers need to replace their clunkers. Automakers have also released some interesting models with a renewed focus on fuel efficiency. Dealerships offered buyers a number of discounts and other incentives. And finally, consumer credit is getting better, interest rates are still low and financing a purchase has become easier.

"The biggest driver of this year’s story is going to be replacement," Ford exec Ken Czubay said Friday on a conference call, according to Bloomberg. "The age of the fleet has continued to get little bit older."

General Motors (GM) and Ford (F) saw their respective stock prices rise Friday as they reported gains of 16% and 22% from a year earlier. GM shares were up 1% in afternoon trading to $28.38, and Ford shares rose less than 1% to $13.05.

Chrysler also saw sales growth of 16% for the month. Overall, analysts think U.S. sales will rise 15% to an annualized rate of about 15 million to 15.5 million, up from 14.5 million last year.

The overall industry came in about even with expectations for the month, with the seasonally adjusted annual rate for light vehicles at 15.29 million units, according to industry tracking firm Autodata. That's a 14% increase from a year earlier and a 23% decrease from December 2012.

Toyota (TM) led the industry with gains of 27%. The company ended 2012 as the world's largest automaker, taking the title back from GM. Still, the race is extremely close. Toyota sold 9.75 million vehicles last year compared with 9.29 million for GM. Toyota's U.S. shares were up 3% Friday to $98.23.

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15Comments
Feb 1, 2013 4:19PM
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Pete, no bailout this time. Yes the economy is a lot better than everyone thinks especially for the
People that want to get off their a-- and work.
Feb 1, 2013 3:59PM
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Wow , 40,000 dollar pick-up trucks selling like gangbusters, the economy must be exploding !

Feb 1, 2013 4:45PM
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This is all BS and you must be entirely not into other than promotion.  This economy stinks pure and simple.  Forget the nonsense in some derivation to suit.  Guess,  the Hispanics are 'buying" us....trucks!

Get a clue.  I see these trucks all over, here.  Yeah, "easy credit" .. you think I am kidding...nope.  All this is "manufactured BS, period.

Feb 2, 2013 11:56AM
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WHITEY WITH A .45 ACP:I know the far right doesn`t want to hear facts, but here goes:

I have a college degree and a growing limo service.We`re boooked the entire week

of Valentine`s week, by the way.

  If you were smart,you`ld buy stocks, instead of guns.If you were smart.

Feb 1, 2013 10:51PM
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Auto sales are up there,housing is improving,the stock market is near record high

and 6 million jobs have been added in 4 years.The far right hates positive news.They

want to hear depression,guns,war,school shootings and smash mouth football.

Let`s go back to be glory Bush years.

Feb 1, 2013 5:16PM
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Toyota beats GM because of fleet sales
Feb 2, 2013 11:22PM
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Its great for the economy . Seeing that the so called job creators has had HUGE tax cuts from Bush to make jobs ? Two unpaid for wars and the Bush tax cuts has sure made a HUGE debt in the USA... And after over a DECADE of aLL THIS AND STILL NO JOBS ?? Go figure republicans in action...If Dems are tax and spend ? Republicans are borrow and spend ! LOL
Feb 1, 2013 4:05PM
Feb 1, 2013 4:20PM
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bama s govt motors is so good why dont they pay thier debt to the taxpayers like chrysler and aig and others who took the bailouts screw gm and big union paddin obamas pockets
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