DETROIT (Jan. 5, 2011)—Auto makers Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. are forecasting light vehicle sales in the U.S. will rise anywhere from 6 to 14 percent over 2010 sales, which finished the year up 11.5 percent over 2009.
Ford is forecasting 2011 light vehicle sales will rise to between 12.3 million and 13.3 million units, while GM sees sales rising to 12.8 million to 13.3 million in 2011. Sales in 2010 finished at 11.6 million units after a strong December.
“The incoming [economic] indicators are supporting ongoing improvements in consumer spending,” Ford Chief Economist Ellen Hughes-Cromwick said.
GM sales boss Don Johnson sees 2011 auto sales picking up the pace in the second half.
“We expect the extension of tax cuts and unemployment benefits will help propel consumer spending,” he said.
Auto makers sold 1.14 million units in December, up 11 percent from a year earlier, and eclipsing May's 1.1 million as the best month in 2010. Sales momentum built gradually in 2010 after demand plunged to a 27-year low of 10.4 million in 2009.
Every auto group except Toyota Motor Sales posted gains in December, led by a 37-percent increase at Hyundai-Kia Automotive and a 28-percent advance at Nissan North America.
Ford replaced Toyota as the No. 2 U.S. auto maker, while a big December by Nissan North America kept Hyundai-Kia Automotive from capturing the No. 6 spot. Ford's move up was widely anticipated as Toyota's massive safety recalls slammed sales and Ford has gained volume all year.
Ford 2010 group sales jumped 17 percent to 1.96 million units, while Toyota's sales slipped 0.4 percent for the year to 1.76 million units.
GM remained the top-selling auto maker, up 7 percent to 2.2 million units. It joins No. 4 American Honda Motor Co.—also up 7 percent—as the major players to increase unit sales but lose market share by underperforming the industry.
Vehicles assembled in North America picked up 2.5 points of market share, finishing 2010 with 76.4 percent of the U.S. light vehicle market. In 2009, North American-built vehicles held 73.9 percent of the market, but as the Detroit 3 rebound and overseas-based manufacturers shift production to combat a weak U.S. dollar and rising foreign production costs, output is rising in North America.
In 2010, sales of Japan-built vehicles lost 1.7 points of share to 12.1 percent. Korean-built vehicle sales fell 0.7 point to 4.8 percent of the market as Hyundai and Kia factories in the U.S. reached full capacity.
Ford's F-series pickup is once again the best-selling U.S. nameplate, finishing 2010 with sales of 528,349 units, up 28 percent over 2009.