What a difference 11 months make. After starting 2012 with a monthly sales rate of just under 14 million vehicles automakers ended the year with the December sales rate expected to be about 1.5 Million vehicles stronger. The final monthly sales rate is projected to be 15.5 million vehicles.
Dealers and analysts attribute the strong December sales to the gradually improving economy, pent-up demand and Americans not being discouraged as the fiscal cliff negotiations dragged on.
(Read More: US Auto Sales to Drive Past 15 Million in 2013.)
"The economic factors are still positive, housing, availability of consumer credit, autos have certainly helped lead the charge, but December is typically a good month for the auto industry," said Kurt McNeil, vice president of U.S. sales for General Motors. "The fact that Washington made some progress towards the end of the month certainly didn't hurt so we feel really good about where we finished."
For the year, automakers are projected to have sold 14.5 million vehicles in the U.S., a 13 percent increase over 2011.