It’s not quite boom times for the US auto industry. But it’s getting there. Sales of new cars and trucks are likely to reach 14.5 million for 2012. And if they climb much beyond that, they’ll be closing in on a high set in 2005.
Cheap loans, a host of new cars and greater confidence in the economy are drawing buyers into showrooms. Plus, Americans who hung on to aging cars in recession are ready to trade them in.
Volkswagen saw a 35% jump in sales in 2012, one of the biggest increases in the industry. The new Passat midsize car was the driver, with sales up 413% over 2011. Chrysler’s sales leapt 21% thanks to strong sales of the Dodge Caravan minivan and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV.
Both GM and Ford gai-ned sales in 2011 when the earthquake hurt their Japanese rivals. But the Japanese snatched sales back in 2012, and GM and Ford lagged behind the indu-stry with only 4% and 5% sales increase respectively.