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by Tim Beissmann

The US new vehicle market rose to 14.5 million units in 2012 on the back of rising demand for mid-sized and small cars in a nation famous for its ‘bigger is better’ buying philosophy.

The 2012 result – which saw 14,492,398 passenger cars, SUVs and light commercial vehicles sold across the country – was the strongest since 2007 before the market was rocked by the global financial crisis.

Sales increased 13.4 per cent from 2011, the third straight year of double-digit growth, which US industry journal Automotive News reports is the first such streak since the early 1970s.

General Motors ended the year with 2,595,717 sales – up 3.7 per cent – giving it a 20.3 per cent share of the total new vehicle market.

Fellow Detroit-based rival Ford Motor Company finished a close second with 2,243,009 sales, an increase of 4.7 per cent over 2011.

Toyota Motor Corporation rebounded fiercely from a natural disaster-affected 2011. Sales soared 26.6 per cent to 2,082,504, boosted by strong sales of the new Camry (top), which strengthened its position as the country’s top-selling passenger car as sales jumped by about one-third.

The Camry was one of five small or medium cars inside the top eight, with each of the Honda Accord and Civic, Nissan Altima and Toyota Corolla also enjoying double-digit percentage growth in 2012.

The US has not lost its passion for traditional pick-up trucks, however, with the Ford F-Series (above) and the Chevrolet Silverado once again the most popular new vehicles in 2012. F-Series sales rose 10.3 per cent to 645,316, while the Silverado inched ahead 0.8 per cent to 418,312. Together with their Chrysler-owned Ram Trucks rival, the trio combined for 1.36 million sales last year.

Chrysler also enjoyed a strong 2012, with sales jumping 20.6 per cent to 1,651,787. Other solid improvers included Honda (1,422,785 sales, up 24.0 per cent), Hyundai Group (1,260,606 sales, 11.4 per cent), Nissan (1,141,656, up 9.5 per cent) and Volkswagen Group (615,281 sales, up 30.0 per cent).

BMW was the leading luxury brand with 37,399 sales, leading Lexus (30,607), Mercedes-Benz (30,376), Cadillac (18,248), Audi (14,841) and Infiniti (12,627).

There’s no sign of the US market slowing in 2013 either. The seasonally adjusted annual rate currently sits at 15.38 million sales for the coming 12 months, although some analysts have predicted the market could grow as high as 15.6 million units.


Best-selling vehicles in the US – 2012

  1. Ford F-Series – 645,316 (+10.3 per cent)
  2. Chevrolet Silverado – 418,312 (+0.8 per cent)
  3. Toyota Camry – 404,886 (+31.2 per cent)
  4. Honda Accord – 331,872 (+40.8 per cent)
  5. Honda Civic – 317,909 (+43.7 per cent)
  6. Nissan Altima – 302,934 (+12.6 per cent)
  7. Ram Trucks – 293,363 (+19.9 per cent)
  8. Toyota Corolla – 290,947 (+21.1 per cent)
  9. Honda CR-V – 281,652 (+29.0 per cent)
  10. Ford Escape – 261,008 (+2.6 per cent)