January is turning into another good month for auto sales, according to auto information company Edmunds.com.
Looking at about three weeks of data, Edmunds projects that January auto sales will rise about 14.5% from the same month a year ago to a little more than 1 million vehicles.
On a seasonal basis, that represents a healthy sales pace of 15.3 million vehicles.
"January’s numbers reiterate the energy and optimism that filled the air last week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. There was some concern that retail sales would drop once replacement demand from [Superstorm] Sandy and the blitzkrieg of holiday ads no longer filled the airwaves, but it appears to be tempered," said Jessica Caldwell, an analyst at Edmunds.com. "Even with lingering concerns surrounding the fiscal cliff delayed decisions, we are expecting to see a strong sales month."Most analysts are projecting that the auto industry will sell between 15 million and 15.5 million new vehicles this year. It posted sales of 14.5 million last year.
Edmunds estimated that fleet sales – to rental car companies, governments and commercial customers – will be about 19% of the market this month. That’s a bit lower than usual and is an indicator of strengthening consumer confidence.
After logging big gains in 2012 as they recovered from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, Toyota and Honda are seeing that growth rates appear to be slowing.
“We will begin to see tempered year-over-year changes for Honda and Toyota,” Caldwell said