By Douglas A. McIntyre and Samuel Weigley
For decades, a relatively small number of cars and light trucks have dominated U.S. sales, whether these were built by American, Japanese, or European manufacturers. This trend goes all the way back to the Ford (NYSE: F) Model T. The dominance of the market by a few vehicles continued this year, and based on 24/7 Wall St. forecasts will continue in 2013.
Twelve million cars and light trucks were sold in the U.S. through the first 10 months of 2012. According to sales data provided by Edmunds.com, approximately 3.7 million of these were from sales of just 16 models. Most models have at least one characteristic in common. They tend to be inexpensive sedans that get high gas mileage. Every vehicle on the list has a base price of under $25,000. Fourteen have base models that have 4-cylinder engines, which tend to get better mileage than engines with 6-cylinder and 8-cylinder power engines.
Japanese manufacturers will continue to have the very best-selling cars. Of the seven best-selling cars for 2013, six are Japanese. The exception is Ford’s F-150 pickup, which has been a staple model line of the No. 2 U.S. car company since the 1940s. Japanese cars usually do well on consumer quality surveys, and these manufacturers, which include Toyota (NYSE: TM), Honda (NYSE: HMC), and Nissan have been in the high-mileage end of the market since they became popular in the 1980s.
Based on sales data for the first 10 months of 2012 from Edmunds.com, 24/7 Wall St. has forecasted the 16 cars and light trucks that will sell best in 2013. Using the average monthly sales from January through October 2012, we projected full-year sales for these vehicles and calculated the annual percent change. We reviewed all models that would sell at least 200,000 by the end of this year. Using this forecasted annual change, we projected what each model’s sales would be next year. To be conservative, any models which were projected to increase more than average growth rate among the 16 best-selling cars between 2011 and 2012 were assigned the average growth rate.
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