Reflecting a market-wide recovery in the U.S. automotive industry, vehicle sales soared in February to reach the highest annual sales rate in nearly four years. The uptick was driven in large part by gains in consumer confidence, as well as drivers' need to replace old cars with new ones.
A slew of recent signs showing an improving economy have prompted many analysts to revise their projections for total auto sales in 2012. LMC Automotive, for example, raised its annual forecast from 13.8 million vehicles sold to 14 million vehicles. Others have held estimates as high as 14.5 million. What's also impressive is that Americans continued to invest in new vehicles despite soaring gas prices last month. "Concerns about the financial crisis in Europe are not holding back the momentum of the automotive recovery in the U.S.," said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC told the Los Angeles Times. "The industry is currently well positioned for the best performance since 2007." Gains in employment, credit availability and consumer sentiment have driven an uptick in sales throughout the retail and financing sector as well.