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Polk predicts new-car production and sales to rise in 2013
By Insure.com staff

An improving economy will boost auto production and sales in 2013, according to Polk, an auto industry research firm.

New light-vehicle registrations this year will hit 15.3 million in the U.S., 6.6 percent above the 2012 level.

"The auto sector is likely to continue to be one of the key sectors that lead the U.S. economic recovery," Anthony Pratt, director of forecasting for the Americas at Polk, said in a press statement. "However, we don't expect to realize pre-recession levels in the 17 million vehicles range for many years."

Automakers plan to introduce 43 new vehicles and 60 vehicle redesigns in the U.S. this year, up almost 50 percent over 2012, according to Polk. The new products likely will increase sales and new car registrations.

Polk analysts say mid-size sedans, the largest segment at 18.5 percent of the overall market, will lead the industry.

"Recent redesigns of nearly every vehicle in the mid-size segment are forcing more competition and continued growth," Tom Libby, lead analyst for North America at Polk, said. "The current array of options for consumers in the market for a new mid-sized vehicle makes it a great time to buy a new car."

The luxury segment will also be one to watch this year, as automakers launch new compact luxury models.

The large pickup truck segment, which had declined over the past five years, will grow with several new launches in 2013 and the 2014 model year. GM, Toyota and Ford plan to showcase redesigned pickups in the next 18 to 24 months, Polk said.

Polk also forecast growth of compacts and subcompacts, with several new models planned for the coming year.

Hybrid vehicles, meanwhile, will grow more slowly than other industry segments, due largely to their higher sticker price, compared to fuel-efficient, traditionally-powered cars.

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