During the recent Society of Automotive Analysts conference at the Detroit auto show, a number of industry experts offered projections for new-car sales in 2012, with each expecting to see an uptick.
The Detroit Free Press reports the projections ranged from 13.3 million new-car sales to 13.9 million, a significant increase over the 12.8 million sold in 2011.
Though General Motors' chief economist Mustafa Mohatarem did not provide a specific sales forecast, he explained that he expected the U.S. economy to be one of the leaders through 2012, as Europe is struggling with the debt crisis and auto sales are poised to slow down in India, Brazil and China.
Paul Taylor, an economist with the National Automobile Dealers Association, came in on the high end of the projections, saying during the conference that he expected sales to reach 13.9 million in 2012.
"I also expect that pickup trucks, minivans and luxury cars will sell much better than they did last year," Taylor explained.
The anticipated spike in new car sales will likely have a significant impact on automotive staffing throughout the country. In South Carolina, for instance, this impact is already being felt as one major German automaker recently announced plans to invest nearly $900 million at its plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
In a release, the automaker said the investment will come with a significant boost to automotive staffing, as 300 new jobs will be created at the plant this year. The announcement reportedly came as the company celebrated the milestone of 2 million vehicles having been manufactured since U.S. production began in 1994, the release noted.
South Carolina's Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt explained that the milestone was an indication of the substantial impact the automaker has had on the local economy.
"I am thrilled to celebrate the two millionth [vehicle] today," Hitt said in a statement. "[The automaker's] impact on South Carolina's economy and overall competitiveness is always worth celebrating. This new economic investment and commitment of jobs is a testament to South Carolina's strong automotive manufacturing industry."
According to the release, the additional 300 jobs will boost automotive staffing at the plant to nearly 7,500 positions by the end of the year.