As any of us with shrinking budgets and rising living costs know, car purchases just aren’t in the books for many of us. Forecasts of auto sales in the U.S. are predicted to fall for the fourth straight year, sinking to their lowest levels since 2014. Market analysts believe total auto sales could total fewer than 17 million in the coming year, marking the end of a near 100-year rate of growth. Are millennials simply not buying as many cars as previous generations, or is this another sign of an overall stagnating economy? Why not both?
The National Automobile Dealers Association has forecasted total sales of 16.7 million for 2018, which it claims is still a figure to be proud of despite being lower than previous years. Automotive information services authority Edmunds.com predicts that total U.S. auto sales could total just 16.8 million in 2018. Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis at Edmunds, says that this slump could trigger some makers to extend significant discounts to consumers to try and boost sales:
That period of growth that we had grown accustomed to is obviously over, and the industry is starting to rightsize. We could see a fight for market share. They’re looking to keep their share, and if one company starts increasing their incentives, generally others follow.
Aside from discounts, automakers are also thought to be banking on increased consumer spending in 2018 thanks to the new round of tax cuts approved by lawmakers this year. Auto sales of hybrid and electric vehicles, meanwhile, are expected to rise in 2018. Just 3% of all vehicle sales in 2017 were for all-electrics or hybrids, but that figure is predicted to rise to 4.4% next year. Tesla Motors is predicted to be a big winner in the electrics market in 2018, while Toyota is forecasted to come in a close second. Are consumers waiting on new electric vehicles, or for bags of money to fall from the sky?