Survey: Auto Sales Set to Boom in 2011

Have auto consumers been hiding in the weeds, waiting to bust out and buy a new car when the economy needs them most? Apparently, according to a new study that says 83% of consumers would at least be looking for a new vehicle in 2011 but out of need and not on a whim.

Autobytel (Stock Quote: ABTL), a consumer auto research firm that helps individuals and businesses make smart vehicle purchases, is making the case. Its recently released “Hot Report” says that while consumers aren’t exactly cheerful about the economy, that’s not going to stop them from choosing a new car in 2011.

Autobytel’s data reveal a “delayed reaction” among car consumers. The company says 60% of consumers surveyed put off buying a new car longer than usual due to the tough economy, but they can’t wait much longer to pull the trigger. That 60% - plus 23% more who just want a new car already – expect to be in the market for a new vehicle next year.

Of those surveyed, 44% have already started looking for a new set of wheels, while 22% say they’ll look within the next six months and 16% plan to begin the hunt within six to 12 months.

“A wide majority of consumers are considering purchasing a new or used vehicle in the next year even though consumer confidence in the economy has not improved significantly”, the report stated.

Demographics also come into play. J.D. Power & Associates and the American Association of Retired People, or AARP, reports that the majority of new car purchases come from the 50-plus crowd  - up from 39% in 2001. The company says older consumers have more financial resources to handle a rough and tumble economy than younger consumers. And says AARP’s research director Mark Bradbury, baby boomers have the  "ability to spend on higher-ticket items during harsh economic times," while "younger adults are moving back home to ease basic financial burdens, such as housing and food."

Autobytel also reports that recent months showed signs of greater activity in the new car market, a good sign for the economy and the auto industry going into 2011.

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