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Production Of New Vehicles Predicted To Hit 2002 Levels

Strong new-vehicle retail sales figures have led analysts to predict North American production will reach 16 million units in 2013 — a mark not hit since 2002. Part of the rise is due to strong demand for pickup trucks. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images hide caption

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Strong new-vehicle retail sales figures have led analysts to predict North American production will reach 16 million units in 2013 — a mark not hit since 2002. Part of the rise is due to strong demand for pickup trucks.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Strong new-vehicle sales figures are causing industry analysts to revise their forecasts for North American production levels in 2013, with J.D. Power & Associates and LMC Automotive predicting 16 million units will be produced — a mark not hit since 2002.

More than 1,157,000 new vehicles are projected to be sold in May, the third month in a row to top the 1 million level. The growth is being helped by strong demand for full-sized pickups, which represent more than 11 percent of retail sales, according to a news release from J.D. Power.

The strong sales figures are coming at a time when the average transaction price for new vehicles set a record high in May, at $28,921, the auto industry analysts said. The higher prices are being supported by low interest rates, strong trade-in values and other factors that help cut monthly payments.

J.D. Power's John Humphrey, senior vice president of the global automotive practice, says that "while industry new-vehicle transaction prices have risen by 19 percent during the past six years ($28,921 in May 2013 from $24,404 in May 2008), the average monthly payment for new-car buyers and lessees has increased only 3 percent ($455 in May 2013 vs. $443 in May 2008)."

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Yesterday, Detroit automakers said they would be reducing "the traditional two-week summer break at their factories and speeding up production to meet buyers' growing demand for new cars and trucks," as the AP reported.