Disastrous Year Plays Out Well for the US Auto Sector

The trajectory of the US auto sector in 2020 has produced more whiplash cases than all the rear-end collisions on the roads.

With economic realities already settling in by late 2019, as overall the tax cuts and trade wars had not spurred the economy and had cost US jobs and higher consumer prices, auto sales in the US dropped off 1.4% from a 2018 high of 17.2 million units.

Though 2020 was viewed initially as a year of modest retrenchment, the COVID-19 pandemic, and resulting general lockdowns and the abrupt halt in manufacturing, threw the industry into turmoil.

Demand for vehicles, especially SUVs and trucks, surged throughout the summer and a record setting September, driving the industry to impressive projected 2020 US sales of 15.2 million units.

But factory shutdowns, and a sluggish supply chain rebound, resulting scarcity of new models and flagging consumer confidence, has led to a boom in pre-owned car sales, which have surged in price by more than 5%.

Barring further disruptions, the vehicle sales surge will continue on pent-up demand, fears of air travel, public transportation and even ride-sharing, and sustained low fuel prices.