What struggling economy? Auto sales in the United States reached a five-year high in 2012. Lower interest rates, consumer confidence and new designs helped spur sales after the recession nearly destroyed the entire industry.
The Associated Press reveals sales of new vehicles are expected to top 14.5 million units for 2012, which is 13 percent more than the previous year. Volkswagen and Chrysler were big winners with jumps of more than 20 percent from the previous year. General Motors and Ford lost market share, according to the AP story.
What became political fodder in 2012 may now be seen as an economic indicator. When Mitt Romney declared "Let Detroit go bankrupt," perhaps he spoke too soon. American automakers, and auto sales in general, have rebounded from controversial bailouts. Like the housing market, automobiles are a necessary component of American commerce.
Now, it will be up to car manufacturers to give consumers what they want. Will we see more electric and hybrid cars produced? Will gas guzzlers make a comeback now that fuel prices are lower? What kinds of cars will Americans buy this year?