Edmunds forecasts 15 million new car sales in 2013

(September 24, 2012) SANTA MONICA, Calif. — About 15 million new cars will be sold in 2013, according to a new forecast released by Edmunds.com. The projected sales figures would be a 4 percent increase over the 14.4 million new car sales expected by Edmunds in calendar 2012.

“2013 will likely be the first year of non-double-digit sales growth since the recovery began in 2010,” says Dr. Lacey Plache, Chief Economist at Edmunds.com. “Economic uncertainty at home and spillover effects from slowing economies abroad will continue to slow the pace of American economic growth, including car sales. But many of the same positive factors in play now will continue to support car sales momentum in 2013.”

Edmunds.com expects that most of next year’s growth will be driven by car buyers whose leases expire. Dr. Plache estimates that almost 500,000 more lessees will return to the market in 2013 than in 2012. The increase is a direct result of a surge in leasing – typically for three-year terms – that began in 2010.

Dr. Plache’s forecast also notes that:

Even though the number of licensed drivers will be larger than ever, the expected rate of new car sales per licensed driver in 2013 will still fall short of pre-recession levels.

A factor that could result in drawing more consumers back to the market is the increasingly aging fleet. The average age of vehicles in operation reached a record 11 years in the first quarter of 2012, according to Experian.

Greater access to credit also could spur a greater release of pent-up demand in 2013; the share of subprime new car loans returned to pre-recession levels in the second quarter of 2012 but the volume of subprime loans remains well below former highs.

On the prime side of the loan market, Edmunds.com data indicates that more consumers are getting auto loans with zero percent APRs, a trend that could bring out more buyers if it continues in 2013.

Dr. Plache’s full 2013 auto sales forecast is available by clicking here.