Auto sales powered 2012 recovery

Jan. 2, 2013 at 2:05 PM

NEW YORK, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- An economic analysis concluded that growth in the U.S. economy in 2012 was largely driven by automobile sales.

The analysis from Swiss bank Credit Suisse said 30 percent of the growth in the U.S. economy in the first half of 2012 was attributed to automobile sales, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Auto sales reached a post-financial crisis peak last year with 14.5 million new cars and light trucks sold, auto tracking firm Kelley Blue Book said.

Oddly, the Post reported, sales kept up a solid pace despite a striking number of recalls, which, at 14.3 million, almost matched sales for the year.

It is generally acknowledge that recalls put a damper on sales, as car problems are not the kind of press the industry prefers.

But Toyota and Honda both increased market share in 2012 with sales of 5 million and 3.4 million, respectively. Those auto makers, however, had the largest number of recalls in the year, said industry analyst Jim Gorzelany.

Backing up those numbers, a study at the North Carolina State University found that the massive recalls instigated by Toyota over the uncontrolled acceleration problems in 2009 did not alter the public's perception of Toyota vehicle reliability.

Sales also rose due to pent up demand. With the recession pushing people to hold off on buying a new car, by January 2012 the average age of a U.S. car was a record 10.8 years -- in theory old enough to force many buyers to visit showrooms.

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