Jan. 3 - U.S. auto sales in 2013 are expected to rev up even more thanks to new SUV models after 2012 saw the best annual sales gains since 2007. Sasha Salama reports.
The U.S. auto industry is expected to accelerate sales growth in 2013 following a very strong 2012. Some analysts expect new vehicle sales to rise nearly 7% this year to more than 15 million. Market research firm Polk, which tracks the auto industry, says there are several reasons for its bullish forecast. Lead analyst Tom Libby. SOUNDBITE: TOM LIBBY, LEAD ANALYST FOR NORTH AMERICA AT POLK (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We believe the momentum from the end of 2012 will carry over to 2013. A second is the continued availability of credit, very, very low interest rates. Another factor is the introduction of several major new products. And, lastly, the improving economy." Some analysts are placing their biggest bets on the biggest U.S. carmaker. David Whiston of Morningstar says GM is his favorite pick in the sector and says it's worth $52 dollars a-share. SOUNDBITE: DAVID WHISTON, SENIOR EQUITY ANALYST, MORNINGSTAR (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Right at the end of the year you had the announcement the U.S. government finally starting to get rid of their stake - 200 million shares - will be bought back directly by GM, which is great. I think everyone on the street wanted to see that. And the remaining shares will be sold off in an orderly fashion. So that relieves one key overhang which was the uncertainty of a portfolio manager getting into the stock and then seeing the government dump 500 million shares on the open market." Analysts see 2013 as a potential blockbuster year for redesigned vehicles. Toyota is launching a new version of its RAV 4 soon along with a brand new Corolla. GM will roll out its new generation of full-sized pickup trucks like the new Silverado 1500 and the GMC Sierra 1500. Also, GM is coming out with its next-generation, full-size Chevy Impala sedan. The expectation is the big automakers will throw some big marketing money behind these traditionally profitable vehicles to make a real sales splash in 2013.