Cox Automotive has revealed its year-end new-vehicle sales numbers, the research firm announced.
Full-year sales in 2022, based on vehicle counts by Kelley Blue Book, are forecast to finish near 13.9 million units, Cox Automotive reported, a decrease of 8% from 2021 and the lowest level since 2011 when total new-vehicle sales were recovering from the Great Recession and reached only 12.7 million. Sales in 2022 are forecast to finish below 2020’s total when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of the U.S. economy. Sales in 2020, according to Kelley Blue Book counts, were 14.6 million.
According to Cox Automotive, what started as a year with a supply problem is ending with a demand problem. Inventory levels have been increasing since late summer, and those gains have helped support increasing sales. The supply gains, however, have been uneven, with many Asian bestsellers nearly unavailable, while many of the Detroit Three’s top products have ample supply, the report said. In October, the SAAR reached 15.1 million, the best level since January and likely a result of improving inventory. As inventory improved, the Fed’s aggressive interest rate increases have driven auto loan costs to levels not seen in more than 20 years, pushing some shoppers out of the market due to vehicle affordability concerns. Since October, the sales pace has declined significantly – by nearly 2 million units.
“This December, there were fewer giant red bows than dealers would have liked,” said Charles Chesbrough, senior economist at Cox Automotive. “Given the large improvement in supply levels, it seems likely that rising interest rates are now constraining demand in the retail auto market. With record-high prices and elevated loan rates, the pool of potential new-vehicle buyers is shrinking.”
As we head into 2023, Cox Automotive experts are expecting the economy to see weak growth as the Federal Reserve tightens monetary conditions and consumers wrestle with high interest rates. New-vehicle sales are forecast to increase modestly versus 2022, supported in part by growing fleet volume. Affordability will continue to be a challenge for vehicle buyers in the year ahead.
Additionally, GM regained its sales title from Toyota in 2022, Cox Automotive said, while Honda sees the largest year-over-year sales decline.
The top seller for 2022, GM sold 2,253,641 vehicles, an increase of 2.3% over last year, while Toyota’s 2,122,665 vehicles sold was a 9.0% decrease from 2021.
Honda, which saw a 33.3% decrease in sales in 2022, sold 977,636 vehicles over the course of the year.
Click here for the Cox Automotive’s full 2022 Sales Forecast.