By Drew Johnson
Monday, Jan 23rd, 2012 @ 4:45 pm
 
2012 looks to be picking up right where 2011 left off. According to the latest estimates, January new car sales in the United States will total about 900,000 units, marking a 10 percent improvement over January 2011.

Although General Motors is expected to see a 5.4 percent sale drop-off, the rest of the major automakers are expected to see strong sales gains this month, resulting in a Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Rate (SAAR) of 13.2 million units. That puts the industry right of pace with Kelley Blue Book's 13.3 million unit estimate for 2012.

"Our analysts have produced a regression model that explores unemployment, housing, consumer confidence and seasonal patterns to assist with our sales forecast for the year," said Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst of automotive insights for Kelley Blue Book. "Given current market conditions and our expectations for 2012, we believe sales will continue to improve at a conservative pace in 2012."

KKB notes that concerns about the Eurozone debt crisis and escalating tensions with Iran could reduce the market's performance in 2012, but a generally improving economy and lower unemployment rates should give the industry a moderate boost this year. KBB also points to America's aging car fleet as a reason for the new car market to pick up this year.