November new vehicle sales have returned to the healthy levels seen before Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast at the end of October, according to a recent sales forecast by J.D. Power and Associates' Power Information Network and LMC Automotive. Industry experts are betting that the surge in retail sales will be led by increasing truck sales during November.
The report showed that new vehicle retail sales are expected to reach 931,900 units in November, representing a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 12.9 million units.
"One thing that the industry can never fully predict is the effect of a natural disaster," said Brandon Mason, senior automotive analyst with PwC's Autofacts team. "However, we do not think it will have a significant impact on full-year sales, as minimal inventory was lost and the supply chain remains largely intact."
Experts indicate that after the economy took a turn, many consumers put off a car purchase and demand for new cars has since pent up. Now, with a recovering housing market and improving economy, Americans have finally been able to make new car purchases again, offsetting the blip Hurricane Sandy placed on the auto market's sales.
"The irrepressible need and willingness of consumers to replace aging vehicles is stronger than the effects of natural disasters and fiscal turmoil both here and abroad," said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive. "A sustained recovery pace in auto sales is expected over the next six months, barring any fiscal cliff hangover, but the medium-term forecast is still dependent on more pronounced economic activity and growth."
Other experts believe truck sales are driving, and will continue to drive, the auto industry's growth.
Tom Libby, lead North American Forecasting analyst at Polk research firm, told the Associated Press that truck sales will be up in November and will continue to show gains in the coming months as housing starts are up throughout the U.S.
To deal with the expected spike in truck sales, Chrysler is adding more than 1,000 workers to its Ram pickup factory, while both Ford and General Motors indicated that truck sales are up after remaining relatively unchanged in recent years.