U.S. auto sales post 5-year high in 2012

Auto makers report strong December sales.

Reuss is not alone in his optimism. Both Edumunds.com, which offers consumers information on purchasing cars, and the Polk automotive research firm predicted in recent days that auto saleswill continue to climb again this year. Edmunds.com is projecting a 4 percent increase to 15 million vehicles sold, and Polk is forecasting a 7 percent jump to 15.3 million.

Polk officials noted that GM, Toyota and Ford are planning to showcase redesigned large pickup trucks in 2013 and into the 2014 model year, which will likely reinvigorate a segment that has been declining in the last five years.

Edmunds.com Chief Economist Lacey Plache said vehicle sales will benefit from the continuing recovery of housing prices in 2013.

"Rising home prices make consumers feel wealthier, which translates into greater consumer confidence to make large purchases such as a new car," Plache said in a news release.

Polk has projected that new vehicle introductions in 2013 will escalate dramatically, with 43 new vehicle introductions in the U.S. planned for the year, up nearly 50 percent over 2012. In addition, 60 vehicle redesigns are expected in the coming year. Those new launches and redesigns will likely boost showroom traffic and sales, Polk officials said.

Auto manufacturers' 2012 sales increase over 2011:

Chrysler: 21 percent

Ford: 5 percent

GM: 4 percent

Honda: 24 percent

Hyundai/Kia: 11 percent

Nissan: 10 percent

Toyota: 27 percent

Volkswagen: 35 percent



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