While many of the headlines for the U.S. auto industry this year were focused on the innovative story of Tesla and its ambitious growth goals, the automaker remains a minor player in terms of unit sales—at least for now.
The rest of the U.S. market experienced a somewhat lackluster 2019—though better than some earlier estimates—according to a preliminary look at the year’s total sales.
The Wall Street Journal wrote on Jan. 3,
Source: Investors.com, Wall Street Journal, Autodata Corp., Edmunds, Cox
The Wall Street Journal offered several observations on the auto market for 2019, paraphrased here:
- A strong U.S. economy, low gas prices, attractive interest rates, and many new SUV options led to relatively stable sales and overall more expensive average vehicle prices in 2019.
- Overall, U.S. industry sales have been hovering at an annual rate of 17 million units since setting a record of 17.6 million in 2016. This came following steady increases from a low of 10.4 million units in 2009.
- The average price of a new vehicle hit $33,656 in 2019, up 4% from 2018.
- According to J.D. Power, purchasing incentives rose to 11% of sticker prices, the highest percentage level since 2008.
- Automakers continue to make significant investments in new technologies, especially electric vehicles, and continue to form new partnerships and alliances.
Related to new technologies, Tesla surprised many with a strong end to 2019.
For 2020 and beyond, the outlook for U.S. auto sales is mixed. Many analysts are predicting a decline to an annual rate of 16.4–16.8 million units, says The Wall Street Journal.
Research firm Statista sees the trend for sub-17 million units extending until 2023.
Source: Statista based on industry data.
However, according to econometric models from Trading Economics, total U.S. light vehicle sales are trending toward reaching 17.3 units in 2020.
Source: Trading Economics, Autodata Corp.
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