DETROIT, July 19 (Reuters) - The U.S. auto industry is poised for a robust second half of the year with sales nearing levels recorded before the 2008-2009 economic downturn, influential industry analysts J.D. Power & Associates and LMC Automotive said on Friday.
"The overall trend in vehicle demand has outshined economic growth, and looking forward, the improving economic fundamentals should hold demand at the current level, if not accelerate it over the next several months," said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive.
"With a strong tailwind, it is not unreasonable to think about a 16 million-unit level of demand in 2013," said Schuster.
If 2013 auto sales indeed rise to 16 million, it would represent the highest annual sales rate since 2007's figure of 16.1 million vehicles.
While Schuster says this year's sales may hit 16 million, LMC and JD Power on Friday raised their forecast for 2013 to 15.6 million from the previous 15.4 million.
A large fleet of older vehicles that need to be replaced, stronger pickup truck sales linked to a growing construction industry and improving consumer confidence have helped spur auto sales so far this year.
I have never seen so many old broken down cars on the side of the road. Pent up demand due to 11 year average of cars on the road. They cost more to maintain than a low interest 36 month note with a 20% down payment.
That's not the first source I have seen predicting a possible 16 million units this year. This is going to be a very good year, and more than I would have expected in this amount of time since 2008-2009.