Recovery continues as NA car sales head for year 2000 levels

Car sales in North America, which hit a low of 10.4 million units in 2009, have been improving year over year for several years now, and are on track to hit 17.5 million by 2016, according to some analysts. One prediction is that North American markets will absorb 15.2 million new vehicles in 2013. Canada’s share of that is projected to be 2.6 million units, up from 2.5 million in 2012.

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Most cars sold in North America are built here, though not designed here. While sales are heading for levels not seen since 2000, it is a different world for the auto industry, with increasing use of global platforms that can be shipped anywhere in the world.

Most of those vehicles are built in North America, according to DesRosiers and Associates. However, only 30 per cent of vehicles sold in North America were designed here. That number is down from 72 per cent in 2000.

Crossover vehicles such as the Toyota RAV4 account for 40 per cent of Canadian vehicle production, a share that will increase as Toyota boosts production at its Woodstock plant. In the US, pickup truck sales are expected to increase, as the economy in general, and the new housing market in particular, continues to improve.

About 25 per cent of light vehicles are manufactured overseas, a percentage that has remained constant over the past ten years. Virtually all of the “import” brands—Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen—are now built in North America. Mike Wall, an analyst speaking at a Michigan State University symposium on the auto industry last week, said that of the US automakers, Ford and Chrysler will see the greatest sales growth in 2013, while General Motors will struggle with sales growth as it introduces new product lines into the market. Brisk sales of Ford’s F-Series pickups are credited with driving profits to record levels last year in North America

Outside of the Big Three, Wall said Renault/Nissan will see the most growth in the North American market.

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