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More U.S. Sales Growth Expected In 2013

“Detroit Motorshow participants are expecting positive growth, but for growth rates to come down significantly versus the prior year”

The Detroit Car Show has now closed its doors for another year,  but despite the fact that U.S. sales growth is expected to slow in 2013, the mood was in sharp contrast to Europe’s gloom.

“Basically all industry participants we saw at the Detroit Motorshow are expecting positive growth, but for growth rates to come down significantly versus the prior year,” said Deutsche Bank analyst Jochen Gehrke.

Deutsche Bank’s expectations are slightly lower than most

“For the U.S. specifically, industry consensus is so far between 15 and 15.5 million units, a touch above our 14.8 million view,” Gehrke said.

LMC Automotive expects a 4.1 per rise to 15.1 million in 2013. Morgan Stanley is way above consensus with a 16 million target.

“Although most companies took the opportunity to guide conservatively, there was little of the fear factor of prior years,” said Morgan Stanley analyst Stuart Pearson.

“With investors largely interpreting any caution as conservatism, the industry may struggle to surprise in 2013,” he said.

Pearson said the new Mercedes CLA, revealed outside the show but not on the stand at the Cobo Center event, should draw younger buyers to Mercedes.

“VW’s Cross-Blue concept previews an important new SUV likely to be built in the U.S. from 2014. BMW also showed the near production concept of the forthcoming 4-Series (i.e a 3 series coupe). We also sense a battle brewing in the pickup market that could dent Chrysler’s success as GM and Ford introduce key new products this year and next,” Pearson said.

Japanese less forgettable
“Highlights from the show included the Corvette Stingray, clearly our car of the show, the Lincoln MKC, Mercedes E class and Infiniti Q50. The Japanese stands also seemed less forgettable than any time in the past three years,” said Morgan Stanley’s Adam Jonas.

Keith Crane, editor of Automotive News thought the show showed the re-emergence of U.S. dynamism.

“The most intriguing aspect was the wide range of models. There were plug-ins, hybrids and pure electrics. Nearby were models with more than 500 hp. On display and heading for production were vehicles with just about every sort of powerplant shy of windmills. It was a bit of heaven for anyone who may have worried that the industry was falling into the doldrums permanently. The auto business in North America is back loud and strong,” Crane said.

Neil Winton – February 1, 2013

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