CHICAGO New light vehicle
registrations in the United States should rise 6.6 percent this
year to 15.3 million vehicles, according to a global automotive
market intelligence firm.
Analysts at Southfield,
Mich.-based R. L. Polk & Co. also forecast that North
American production volumes will rise 2.4 percent year over
year to about 15.9 million vehicles, driven by an improving
economy and capacity expansion.
Automakers will introduce 43 new
vehicles this year, up nearly 50 percent from 2012, as well as
60 vehicle redesigns, which Polk said likely will spur showroom
traffic and new car sales.
"(We) expect continued recovery
in the industry in 2013 and 2014," Anthony Pratt, director of
forecasting for the Americas, said. Polk expects annual sales
to hit 16 million vehicles by 2015, if not sooner. The U.S.
market last achieved annual sales of 16 million vehicles in
The large-pickup segment, which
has declined over the past five years, likely will grow with
new launches in 2013 and into the 2014 model year by
Detroit-based General Motors Co., Toyota City, Japan-based
Toyota Motor Corp. and Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford Motor Co.,
Polk said, and a recovering housing sector will pull demand
from construction contractors.
The midsize sedan and luxury
vehicle segments also bear watching, according to Polks
lead North American analyst, Tom Libby. And if gas prices keep
falling, the small luxury crossover segment will continue to
Sales of compact crossover
vehicles have risen more than 50 percent in the past five
years. Greater competition in this segment has created pricing
pressures, which bodes well for consumer interest.
Polk also believes the industry
will see higher sales of compact and subcompact cars,
especially as automakers introduce new models in 2013 that aim
to meet higher fuel economy standards. Sales also will gain
from "increased interest by younger buyers just coming into the
market," Libby said.
Although the number of hybrid
models available will rise in 2013, Polk expects their market
share will rise only "slightly" beyond the current 2.9 percent,
largely because prices for hybrids remain high while
traditional cars are achieving greater fuel economy.