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Consumers Could Benefit from Automaker's Brand Optimism

Consumers Could Benefit from Automaker's Brand Optimism

By Jeff Youngs, March 05, 2012
Optimism permeates the Sun Belt camps of Major League Baseball teams as spring training opens this month: Every team is aiming higher, and every manager at least secretly slots in his squad for more wins than they may actually achieve this season. If the great expectations could all come true, pro baseball would have double to triple its actual number of eight playoff teams in the fall!

The auto industry operates much the same way at the beginning of a year, especially during times of recovery like today. Many auto executives harbor beliefs that their brand is on tap to gain not only absolute sales in units, but also share in this rising market.

In fact, while most forecasters are calling for an overall U.S. market of between 13.5 million and 14 million units for 2012 (J.D. Power and Associates just raised its forecast to 14 million ), the total of each automaker's individual sales forecast for the year is 14.4 million, according to an analysis  by Automotive News.

Brand by brand, many executives are able to justify -externally and internally- why they might shoot high. For example:

  • Toyota, Honda and Nissan Groups all are recovering from last year's supply-line disaster, so each, understandably, is projecting at least a 16-percent advance in its U.S. sales compared with actual sales last year.
  • Chrysler Group, which has a handful of new models coming out this year, has projected a 15-percent sales increase over 2011.
  • Kia  has joined its sibling brand Hyundai  and projects a 21-percent rise in its sales this year.
  • Volkswagen Group is coming off a year of gains in 2011, and projects a 13-percent gain.

In fact, of 15 major automakers assessed by the auto news outlet, not a single one is projecting fewer sales this year than last year. Whether American consumers will actually make their wishes come true will be one of the big stories of the year for the industry.

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