November car sales are in line to be the highest in years, not because Hurricane Sandy delayed many Northeast auto purchases that would have taken place last month but because other economic indicators point to higher confidence among U.S. consumers.
The current annual rate of sales is 14.3 million. This is higher than the 10.9 million vehicles sold during the slump of 2009 and is the highest rate since the last recession. The year will still see sales lower than the 17 million sold in 2005. TrueCar.com, which tracks the industry, expects sales last month to have grown 12.7 percent and to come in at an annualized rate of totals sales of 15.2 million. Edmunds.com and LMC Automotive, who also track auto sales, expects the number to come in at 15 million.
With positive job growth and rising home values, Americans might be more confident that they have in years to make pre-holiday vehicle purchases. Also, Americans entered 2012 driving beaters; according to auto data provider Polk, the average vehicle on the road at the end of last year was 11.1 years old, about a year older than pre-recession levels and a record high.
Barclays Capital predicts that as many as 30,000 vehicles purchased in November were linked to Hurricane Sandy either as delayed purchases or buys to replaced damaged vehicles. October saw 1.74 million vehicles sold. The 14.4 million vehicles sold at an annualized rate last month was higher than the 12.8 million sold in the same period last year.
Foreign brands are expected to beat domestics in overall sales this year on high incentives spending, especially by Japan’s Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. (PINK:NSANY) South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co (KRX:005380) and Kia Motors Corporation (KRX:000270), according to Bloomberg.
Major automakers will be reporting their sale figures throughout the day Monday. Economic uncertainties and expected overall slowdown in gross domestic product in 2013 could cause auto sales to slow next year.