A Look Back at 2012 – Car Pro Commentary

As the smoke cleared on the sales numbers of 2012, it will most likely be looked at as a breakthrough year, a year that saw a strong 13% increase from the year before, in spite of the fact that for most of the year, every other economic indicator was going the opposite direction. 14.5 million new vehicles were sold in the United States in 2012, the best year since 2007, and that puts the industry within 10% of reaching 16 million sales, a number considered by many to be auto utopia.
In a year when we saw the highest national average for gas prices, the F-Series truck and the Chevy Silverado ended up #1 and #2 in sales volume, accounting for over a million sales. 2012 was a year that saw sales increases for some re-designed vehicles like Toyota Camry up 31%, Honda Accord up 40%, and Nissan Altima up 12%.
Part of the sales surge for December 2012 was due to the loss of 250,000 vehicles in hurricane Sandy in the Northeast. It is thought that many of those people have not purchased replacement vehicles yet and that will kick off 2013 sales in a strong way.
2012 brought more hybrids and all-electric vehicles including the Tesla S, Ford C-Max, and VW Jetta hybrid. In fact, the average miles per gallon of all cars sold was the highest in history. We saw a huge increase in the use of start/stop technology. On the other side, we had a record 13 different models sold in the United States that are rated at over 600-horses.
We said goodbye to Carroll Shelby in May of 2012, sayonara to Suzuki, and there was a battery of hybrid battery manufacturers that bit the dust. Notable models that we said goodbye to include Chevy Avalanche, Acura ZDX, Mazda CX7, Lexus LFA, and Volvo C30.
It was in August when the Environmental Protection Agency mandated that by 2025, the automakers must have average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon. To help with this, we found out in 2012 we have 5 new diesels coming to the United States, the Mazda 6, Mercedes GLK, Chevy Cruze, Cadillac ATS, and Jeep Grand Chrerokee.
2012 brought MileageGate, we learned that Hyundai and Kia had overstated their fuel economy numbers on several vehicles, prompting lawsuits and a voluntary settlement that will cost the company tens of millions of dollars. Has the auto industry ever been such a factor in a Presidential election as it was in 2012? Probably not. President Obama took credit for saving General Motors and Chrysler with bailout money, and his challenger Mitt Romney is the son of a former President of an automaker.
More vehicles were recalled in 2012 than were sold, something the industry would love to avoid in the new year. We saw big comebacks by Toyota and Honda after falling victim to the Tsunami of 2011. 2012 brought a new headache for automakers, the new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s off-set crash test, which resulted in a lot of popular cars scoring poorly.
The big story of the year has to be the resurgence of the auto industry, which was in the cellar just four short years earlier. Champagne has replaced the worries for just about everyone in the business of building or selling autos.

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