Good times to keep rolling for auto industry: Report

The good times will continue to roll for domestic auto makers in 2017, according to a report from the Conference Board of Canada, which argues the fundamentals supporting a decade-long sales boom remain largely in place.“Consumers in the U.S. are showing signs that they will continue to buy new motor vehicles at a steady pace,” the Ottawa-based not-for-profit think tank said Wednesday in its latest Canadian automotive industry outlook. “Strong U.S. demand for Canadian vehicles will be supported by favourable terms of trade, low oil prices and ready access to financing,” the report said, adding to the positive financial news released by U.S. automakers this week.Strength in demand south of the border is welcome news for Canadian manufacturers and parts makers, said the report’s author, economist Sabrina Bond, since nearly nine of every 10 vehicles assembled in Canada are sold in the U.S.She said the U.S. auto industry approached peak sales over the past two years, but cyclical upgrades amid jobs gains and a stabilizing economy continue to underpin growth.Article Continued BelowAs far as the impact of the incoming Trump administration, she noted mixed signals on trade and regulatory polices and a lack of specifics. “We’re waiting for the rubber to hit the road,” she said.Maryann Keller, an independent auto analyst in Stamford, Connecticut, said the auto industry has benefited from cheap and available credit and low fuel prices, factors still in play despite a modest uptick in U.S. benchmark lending rates and pump prices across North America.“All of that has worked in the industry’s favour and no one is saying that’s going to die,” said Keller.