DETROIT — Strong U.S. sales in December capped a remarkable year for the auto industry, especially Japanese brands, and 2013 should be even better.
Sales of new cars and trucks are expected to total 14.5 million after all carmakers announce figures today. That is 13 percent better than 2011, and the best performance in five years.
Year-end deals on pickup trucks and the usual round of sparkling holiday ads helped December sales jump 10 percent to more than 1.3 million, auto pricing site TrueCar.com predicted. That would translate to an annual rate of more than 15.6 million, making December the strongest month of 2012.
Toyota, which has recovered from an earthquake and tsunami in Japan that crimped its factories two years ago, said today that sales jumped 27 percent for 2012. December sales were up 9 percent.
Honda sales rose 24 percent for the year. Nissan and Infiniti sales were up nearly 10 percent as the Nissan brand topped 1 million in annual sales for the first time.
Volkswagen led all major automakers with sales up a staggering 35 percent.
Chrysler, the smallest of the Detroit carmakers, had the best year among U.S. companies. Its sales jumped 21 percent for the year and 10 percent in December.
But full-year sales at Ford and General Motors lagged. GM’s rose only 3.7 percent for the year, while Ford edged up 5 percent. For December, GM sales rose 5 percent, while Ford was up 2 percent.