Analyst Note| David Whiston |
2022 U.S. light vehicle sales per Wards were 13.7 million, an 8.1% decline from 2021 and their worst year since 2011’s 12.8 million. December sales, however, grew 4.9% year over year with the seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate at 13.31 million, up from December 2021’s 12.72 million. The chip shortage rather than poor demand is to blame and we expect one more year of constrained production for the industry. Regardless of high interest rates and average transaction prices over $45,000, we feel U.S. autos have been at recessionary levels for a lot of the time since spring 2020, so we expect 2023 sales to rise by midsingle digits. Gradual improvement in new vehicle inventory should help used vehicle pricing eventually be more affordable for consumers, which is also good for dealers’ used vehicle margins that are currently squeezed by high procurement costs.