Auto Dealers Expect to Sell 500,000 Fewer Cars This Year

The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), a trade group representing U.S. franchised new-car dealerships, is forecasting sales of 16.8 million new cars and light trucks in 2019.

“We expect the sales momentum to continue this year,” said Patrick Manzi, NADA senior economist. “The 2019 auto show season kicks off in Detroit. Dozens of new vehicles, with auto show rebates and incentives, will soon arrive in dealer showrooms across the country that will appeal to consumers and spark auto sales during the first quarter.”

With a strong finish last December, new light vehicle sales topped 17.3 million units in 2018, marking the fourth best sales year in U.S. history.

Last year, consumers continued to abandon car segments. Light trucks accounted for 69 percent of sales, while cars accounted for 31 percent of sales. In 2017, the ratio was 65 percent light trucks and 35 percent cars. About 10 years ago, the sales mix consisted of 48 percent light trucks and 52 percent cars.

“One of the main factors for this shift has been continued low oil and gasoline prices and the fact that crossover utility vehicles are nearly as fuel efficient as their sedan counterparts. And we’ve seen fuel economy increases across the board, not just on crossovers but also traditional SUVs and pickups,” he said.

Manzi said he expects gasoline prices to remain low in 2019, not as low as present but low enough not to cause a panic and a consumer shift back to the car market.

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