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RSS Digging Deeper: February 2012 sales figures

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Filed under: Car BuyingScott Burgess, former auto critic for The Detroit News, has joined the AOL Autos / Autoblog team. He is a veteran automotive journalist with six years in Detroit covering the auto industry and a Michigan native. Each month he'll dig deeper into the industry's sales figures and file this By The Numbers special report.


Now that I've figured out how to open my email, what in fact my email address is, and where the office is, I've been able to catch my breath and go through the February sales figures.

Lots of people were excited over the February sales numbers, which were the highest since 2009, declaring the end of tough times and announcing only big profits ahead.

Then again, that may not be exactly true. Yes, it was a 15-million-a-year sales pace, outperforming everyone's expectations with sales jumping 15.7 percent compared to the same month last year. But people are waiting to buy cars like never before. The average age of a vehicle on the road is over 10 years old, a trend growing for nearly 20 years, according to a Polk research firm study. Polk says that people are just hanging onto vehicles longer because they're worried about the economy. To think about how different times were 10.8 years ago - Ford Motor Co. had just (re)introduced the all new Fabulous Thunderbird, which, someone is holding onto right now.

So the depression/recession party may not be over, but times are still good. Here are the things I learned by examining the February sales figures.


This February, cars outsold trucks 53.3 to 46.7 percent.

Throughout the industry, car sales jumped 23.9 percent compared to February last year. (Truck sales rose 7.6 percent.)

There are lots of reasons for the jump, though my gut says that people buying new vehicles are also listening to the fear mongering concerning climbing gas prices. Don't expect either trend to end any time soon.

A more important trend might be that in February 2011, trucks outsold cars 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent. This February, cars outsold trucks 53.3 percent to 46.7 percent.

However, the big difference between 2008 and 2012, the last time gas prices skyrocketed, are that Detroit's carmakers have a solid collection of little cars ranging from the Ford Fiesta and Focus to the Chevy Cruze and soon-to-be released Dodge Dart. More on the Chevy Sonic later. The key for Detroit is to see if people associate fuel efficient vehicles with those brands. When times get tough, people tend to go with the brands they assume are the most efficient, even when they're not.

Continue reading Digging Deeper: February 2012 sales figures

Digging Deeper: February 2012 sales figures originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 09 Mar 2012 20:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.<h6 style="clear: both; padding: 8px 0 0 0; height: 2px; font-size: 1px; border: 0; margin: 0; padding: 0;"></h6>Permalink | Email this | Comments



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