The Return Of The Pent-Up Demand: 14 Million New Cars Next Year?

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

The pent-up demand has been chased-after more than Richard Kimble. And like the good doctor, the pent-up demand has so far eluded its pursuers. Now, Joe Pent-Up appears to be surrounded, further resistance is futile. Reuters has it from J.D. Power that:

“U.S. auto sales may have their strongest month of 2011 in November, spurred by consumers’ growing need to replace aging cars and trucks and a wider selection on dealer lots.”

LMC Automotive agrees to the forecast. However, LMC just bought J.D. Power’s forecasting business along with Jeffrey Schuster, so they ca hardly act as a corroborating witness.

Total light vehicle sales are forecasted to rise 8 percent in November compared with the same month in 2010, and the SAAR is supposed to climb to 13.4 million, up a tad from the 13.2 million in October. For the year, the amalgamated J.D. Power and LMC forecasters predict sales of around 12.7 million vehicles. The really good part (unless you are a treehugger) will follow next year – unless the crystal ball has developed cataracts during the handover. Jeffrey Schuster, now LMC senior vice president of forecasting, predicts:

“As long as there is not an external shock or economic setback, the selling rate could be stable above the 14-million-unit level during the second half of 2012.”

Let’s see what the carmakers have to say to this forecast of a rosy 2012.

Toyota’s Jim Lentz told Reuters’ Bernie Woodall that Toyota expects the U.S. auto market to rise to around 13.6 million in 2012, which would be in the ballpark of the new Power/LMC forecasts. By the middle of the decade Lentz sees sales of 15 million to 16 million, which would be close to the pre-carmageddon levels of 17 million.

General Motors has a more subdued outlook . At a Barclays conference in New York, GM’s U.S. sales chief Don Johnson said:

“We continue to believe that the industry will grow; it will grow slowly, along with the economy and it will be flat to slightly up in 2012. We actually like this slow growth. For us, it is a better environment within which to plan and we prefer to have less uncertainty, less volatility.”

So who will be right? Bullish Schuster & Lentz? Or cautious Don Johnson? What is your crystal ball saying? Most of all: Are you feeling the irresistible urge to inhale that new car smell again?

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2 of 12 comments
  • Redav Redav on Nov 21, 2011

    I suppose I'm one of these "pent-up" buyers. I have money set aside for a new car, but I'm sitting on it because my current car still has plenty of life left in it and I'm not completely thrilled by what's on the market. There are a couple models I really like, but I'm going to wait a couple years to see if their quirks get tweaked away.

  • Zackman Zackman on Nov 21, 2011

    I don't plan on buying anything in the near future, as long as my '04 Impala holds up. So far, so good, as this car has been every bit as reliable as our 2002 CR-V. Truth be told, the Honda has seen pretty light duty and since September I have been putting 500 miles a week on the Chevy, when I drive it all five days. Occasionally I'll take her car, but I drive our '07 MX5 every so often, but it's a weekend car, for the most part and the Impala sits from Friday at 5 PM when I get home until I leave for work on Monday, 6:30 AM. So we'll see...

  • Gray Not bad, including the price. A little worn, but it's 34 years old and looks complete and original. The 318 is one of their best workhorse engines, and is easily modifiable to 400 hp. If I needed something to drive, I'd consider it. I think those are stock wheels, btw. Fifteen inchers look tiny these days.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird One of the reasons why Mopar dropped the removal top version was that the marketing department found that few owners, maybe 20% took the trouble to unbolt and remove the heavy fiberglass roof.
  • Zerofoo The UAW understands that this is their last stand. Their future consists of largely robot assembled EVs that contain far fewer parts. Factories moving to southern "right to work" states and factories moving to the southern-most state of Mexico.I don't think lights-out auto factories are on the horizon, but UAW demands might move those automated manufacturing process timelines up.McDonalds opened a fully automated restaurant in Texas in 2022 in response to a $15/hour minimum wage demand. I'm fairly certain that at $130/hr - fully robotic car factories start to make sense.
  • Redapple2 Cherry 20 yr old Defenders are $100,000 +. Til now.
  • Analoggrotto So UAW is singling out Ford, treating them slightly better in order to motivate the entire effort. Mildly Machiavellian but this will cost them dearly in the future. The type of ill will and betrayal the Detroit-3 must be feeling right now will be the utter demise of UAW. I just hope that this tribulation is not affecting Mary Barra's total hotness.