Since you're talking new, usually, you let the driveway 'live through' 4 seasons. This allows the driveway to move and settle and such. After the 1st year, it's perfectly fine to seal it. (I suggest a sand-based sealer.) After the 1st year (and after you've sealed it, the following kicks in ...)
Asphalt/Blacktop Driveways need not be sealed until the aggregrate (the stone in the 'mix') begins to show some white. When the whiting of the stone occurs, this is a clear indication that the top-most layer of asphalt is worn off. The layer is worn by driving on it, the sun 'eating' away at it, shoveling it, and so on. And if you let the whiting go too long, the emulsion BETWEEN the aggregate will start to break down, which will result in the aggregrate coming loose. Now, at THIS point in time, patching would need to be done. This is why you only want to let the 'problem' go as deep as the surface of the aggregrate.
As a side story, ... 3 Years ago, my neighbor across the street had to have his driveway re-surfaced (with 2" of new asphalt.) Why you ask??? Because, for the preceeding 6-7 years, and for each of those years, he always sealed his driveway. He said it got so 'thick' that the sealer was being tracked into the house! And the reason he sealed it was because it LOOKED NICE! On REAL hot, sunny days, the top layer of his driveway was so thick w/sealer, that it was like walking on bubble gum. Hence, the need to re-top the driveway. As I see it, you don't sleep on your driveway, you don't eat on your driveway, you don't entertain guests on your driveway - What you do is park your dirty, grungy car(s) on it. As for it to stay 'looking nice', you wash it (maybe w/some Asphalt Driveway Cleaner, at most.)
Just when we (that's my neighbors and I) thought it was over, there he goes sealing it, again, for the past 3 years (including 2001!) I wonder if he was listening to himself just 3 years ago. I, personally, advised him of the SAME thing you've already read, and he has STILL sealed it 3 years running! GO figure! At some point, when the opportunity arises, I'll ask him about it. He's harmless - But just a little, Idonno.
Well, that's all folks. My best to ya and hope this helps.
Jay J -Moderator
PS: I had work done 'around' my driveway in 1995. I too had 2" topped off on it (as part of the 'finished job'.) For a fact, the top-most layer of emulsion is STILL rock-solid after having sealed it after 4 full seasons, i.e., 1 year later.) There are absolutely NO signs of wear-and-tear. My driveway faces due SOUTH too and has a 4' rise over a distance of 40'+. So as far as what your contractor is telling you, yes, it's possible for your driveway to 'last a long time w/o having to seal it.' Just do the 1-year seal, and be done w/it until the white of the stone is showing.