After several years during which carmakers across the world struggled with weak consumer demand, natural calamities and high volatility on markets, 2011 was the year things seemed to start going back on tracks. At least, this is what U.S. automakers say when they explain why they expect strong sales in 2012.
Bloomberg writes that General Motors. Co, Ford Motor. Co and Chrysler Group LLC have finished 2011 a lot better than what analysts were expecting. Basically, in 2011 the annual U.S. auto sales reached 12.8 million and for the first time since 2008, all these automakers managed to gain market share in the United States.
GM, Ford and Chrysler finished 2011 with a combined market share of 47.1 percent of the U.S. market, a boost of 2 percentage points since 2010. Chrysler managed to record the largest gain, reaching 10.7 percent in 2011, up from 9.4 percent in 2010.
Four years ago, things were so difficult for U.S. automakers that they asked for governmental assistance. Sales have dropped 18 percent in 2008 alone to 13.2 million. According to a report by Autodata, in 2011 things went a lot better. Industrywide sales rose 10 percent while the December sales rate was 13.6 million.
December was the highest point in sales throughout the year and forecasted a recovery of the U.S. sales. During the month, Chrysler Group LLC posted a 37% raise, Ford Motor Co. declared a 10% gain and General Motors Co. reported a 4.6% increase.
Analyst Michelle Krebs with Edmunds.com, said that 2011’s sales have “been a phenomenal turnaround for the Big Three. Chrysler and GM have the American taxpayer to thank for that, but in the end, it’s been a good investment”.
Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, Ford’s chief economist, said: “The momentum coming out of the fourth quarter of last year provides some confidence that the lower end of this range is less likely”. All in all, as she said, “the latest incoming statistics show some very positive momentum”.
Economists point out to an important aspect: the raise in U.S. auto sales is a sign that consumers are a lot more confident and access to credit at banks is easier. Analysts also forecast that auto sales will continue to grow in 2012 too.