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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Auto Recovery in Perspective

SF Gate details:

Four of the six largest automakers by U.S. sales beat expectations, boosting industry sales to a 13.6 million seasonally adjusted annualized rate, according to Autodata Corp. The pace exceeded the 13.4 million average estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg and is the best month since sales were helped by "cash for clunkers" in August 2009.

"Consumers have been waiting for this," Jessica Caldwell, an analyst for the researcher Edmunds.com, said today in a phone interview. "Cars are getting old, and people are getting to the point where they need to replace them. There's recession fatigue and people want to buy. We're getting tired of being in this saving pattern."
While any recovery is good news, we are still at very low levels relative to recent history. The chart below outlines historical auto sales normalized by population (i.e. "people per car"). What we see is that year-to-date auto sales are in the neighborhood of 1 auto sold per 24 people, down from 29 in 2009, but up from the 17 average seen from 1971 - 2007.



Source: Wards Auto