The auto industry is back and booming – and it’s time workers shared in its success, says Jim Stanford, Unifor economist.

Vehicle sales across North America have recovered from the economic downturn, posting the strongest figures last year since 2007 – and the forecast for 2014 is even better.

 “The rebound in auto sales is nothing short of outstanding, North American consumers have come back far more aggressively that anyone thought they would,” said Stanford.

According to industry reports, 18.3 million vehicles sold in North America in 2013 and this year that will rise to 18.89 million.

Of that total, 15.5 million vehicles were sold last year in the U.S. alone, with 16 million to be sold this year. U.S. sales alone in 2013 rose 7.6 per cent from 2012’s 14.49 million.

“Workers are entitled to a share of that progress and as always we will negotiate that wisely and carefully, but we will be determined workers can share in the industry’s recovery,” said Stanford.

The Detroit Three lead the charge in the U.S:

  • Ford saw U.S. sales rise 10.8 percent last year to nearly 2.49 million, the highest annual total since 2006.
  • Chrysler 2013 sales were up 9 per cent to 1.8 million, its best U.S. sales total since 2007 and the fourth consecutive year of annual sales growth.
  • GM finished 2013 with a 7 per cent sales gain, selling 2.79 million vehicles last year.
  • Toyota sales were up 7.4 percent for the year to nearly 2.24 million.

Also Toyota and Lexus hybrid vehicles accounted for 60% of all hybrids sold in 2013, leading the industry.

The Lexus 450 Hybrid crossover utility vehicle will be assembled in Cambridge this year.

“They are all bursting at the seams. It means our facilities are operating full out and companies are investing. It is positive, they view Canada as a prime location,” said Stanford.

The industry is also certain to keep growing, with analysts suggesting more than 50 new and redesigned vehicles will be released this year by all automakers.