The auto industry, particularly the U.S. auto industry, has started off the year with a bang. This is from the New York Times:
Many analysts say they are confident that United States sales for all of 2012 will surpass 14 million vehicles, a target that seemed overly optimistic several months ago. In contrast, industry sales were 12.8 million last year and 10.4 million in 2009.
General Motors, whose sales rose 12 percent, said March was the first month ever that it had sold more than 100,000 vehicles with highway fuel-economy ratings of at least 30 miles per gallon. They represented about 40 percent of G.M.’s sales.
This is all very good news, on several fronts. It's great for the automakers, who don't ever, ever, want to replay 2009. But it's also good for consumers, who now feel confident enough about the economy's future to go into debt to buy new cars. That might sounds bad, but it isn't. It means consumers credit is flowing.
General Motors also seems to have finally cracked the code on small cars. Remember, this is a company that effectively gave up that market before its bailout and bankruptcy.
We just missed my prediction of 13 million new vehicle sold last year. At this pace, we might actually beat 14 million. Which would move us a long way toward "stabilizing" the market at around 15 million.