91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Deals help auto sales in January

Analysts say U.S. car sales were at least 15% better in January than the same month last year.  Part of the reason is the deals.

Credit is more available than it was last year, and many car makers are offering low to 0% financing on last year’s models, as they try to clear room for the new models on the way. 

George Augustaitis is an analyst with IHS Automotive.  He says those new cars could keep the momentum going as the year progresses.

Ford is introducing the new Focus, Hyundai will launch the new Elantra, and Honda has a new Civic on the way.

"This is really going to drive buyers back," says Augustaitis.  "And a lot of these vehicles already have a large following."

Chrysler’s partner Fiat re-enters the U.S. small market with a minicar called the 500.    General Motors introduced a new small car, the Cruze, late in 2010.

Augustaitis expects sales of small cars, hybrids, and even cars with diesel engines, will improve, as gas prices climb.

"Obviously America and diesels don’t have the same love affair that Europeans do with diesels," says the analyst, "but diesels are fuel-efficient, they are cleaner than they were 20 years ago and they’re just a different product that I personally feel people will start taking a look at."

He says luxury car sales are also improving as the stock market continues to mend.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.