United States - car sales outlook 2020

Light vehicle sales in the United States could range between 14.5 and 16.4 million units in 2020. The auto industry is expected to sell about 16.4 million vehicles in a scenario where the virus that causes COVID-19 is contained fast. If the coronavirus crisis continues, the market outlook will worsen: U.S. light vehicle sales could fall to 14.5 million units in 2020. In 2019, motorists in the U.S. bought some 17 million new automobiles and light trucks, slightly down from record sales between 2015 and 2018, when new light vehicle sales in the U.S. exceeded 17 million units.

Consumer confidence matters

It is expected that new motor vehicle owners will not add new vehicles soon to the cars and light trucks already in their driveways. In 2019, the average price of a new light vehicle came to roughly 36,400 U.S. dollars, which is between 50 and 60 percent of the median household income in the United States. Consumers are typically less willing to make such a large investment when the economy slows down. In the second quarter of 2019, some 86 percent of new vehicle buyers use financing schemes. In 2018, the average age of vehicles on U.S. roads was 11.7 years. However, this figure was even higher for households with an income level below 25,000 U.S. dollars per year. People living in such households reportedly held on to their vehicles for 13 years.

Projected light vehicle sales in the United States in 2020, by COVID-19 scenario

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Release date

March 2020


United States

Survey time period

as of March 19, 2020

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