Automakers are likely to post double-digit sales increases in December as the recovery in the vehicle market and the broader economy continues gaining steam, according to J.D. Power & Associates.
The marketing and information services company on Wednesday estimated December sales will come to slightly more than 1 million units. That's a 15 percent improvement over December last year and a 38 percent improvement over last month.
"The market is continuing to improve, with the relative strength of December sales supporting a year-end rally," said Gary Dilts, J.D. Power's senior vice president of global automotive operations, in a statement.
On an annualized basis, December sales will come to 11.2 million, J.D. Power said. The figure, called SAAR, represents what sales would be if they remained at their current pace all year, adjusted for seasonality.
Auto sales have been recovering for several months as the economy improves and sales rebound from historic lows at the beginning of the year.
Other automotive forecasters are calling for a better December, as well. Last week, the vehicle research Web site Edmunds.com called for December sales of more than 1 million units. But much of the credit for the gains go to foreign automakers such as Hyundai, Honda and Toyota, which have been steadily gaining market share this year over their struggling U.S. competitors.
The exception is Ford Motor Co., which Edmunds predicts will post a December sales increase of 16 percent. Ford has enjoyed steadily improving sales in recent months, helped by a slew of new products like the Ford Fusion midsize sedan.
For all of 2009, the Edmunds predicted sales of 10 million vehicles, down 21 percent from 2008.
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