U.S. New-Auto Registrations to Grow 6.6% in 2013, Polk Estimates

Sales of new autos, a bright spot for the U.S. in 2012, will grow further this year as an improving economy and demand for pickups and for midsize cars boosts registrations 6.6 percent, according to R.L. Polk & Co.

About 15.3 million new light-vehicle sales will be registered in 2013, up less than 1 million from last year, the Southfield, Michigan-based auto researcher said in a report today. The growth rate may be less than half that of 2012 as the industry has already regained much of the volume lost to the recession, Polk said.

“There’s going to be growth, but some demand has been satisfied at this point,” Anthony Pratt, Polk’s director of forecasting for the Americas, said in a phone interview. “The spigot has been on, but it hasn’t been on at full blast.”

Deliveries of cars and trucks in 2012, due to be reported tomorrow, were the best since 2007 as new model introductions and consumer confidence grew. Demand for pickups, a key source of earnings for U.S.-based General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC, should be particularly strong this year, fueled by new designs and a housing-market recovery, Polk said.

The U.S. averaged 16.8 million light-vehicle deliveries annually from 2000 to 2007 before dropping to 10.4 million in 2009, a 27-year-low, according to Autodata Corp.

December Sales

Auto sales in December probably climbed to 1.36 million, the average of estimates by eight analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. That would push full-year deliveries to 14.5 million. Polk’s estimates are based on registration data from state motor-vehicle agencies and may vary from sales figures released by automakers, Pratt said.

Registrations in the U.S. will rise to 15.8 million vehicles in 2014 and 16.2 million by 2015, Polk said. Registrations may contract slightly in 2016 to 16 million units, reflecting the cyclical nature of the auto industry, Pratt said.

North American auto production should grow 2.4 percent this year to 15.9 million cars and trucks, Pratt said. Polk estimated that vehicle output in the region will grow to 16.3 million autos in 2014 and to 16.7 million by 2016.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.