Having Already Dropped for Years, U.S. Auto Sales Plunged to 1970s Level in 2020

by Wolf Richter
Wolf Street

GM, Toyota, Ford sales down 5th year in a row. Nissan in a death spiral. The Pandemic accelerated what had started in 2016. Long-term view on auto sales.

During the infamous year 2020, with all its distortions and shifts, automakers delivered 14.46 million new vehicles in the US, retail and fleet combined, down 15.4% from 2019, the largest year-over-year percentage decline since 2008 (-18%). Topping off years of declines, 2020 took auto sales back to levels first seen in the 1970s.

Every recession has left a deep scar on auto sales. But over the past 20 years, it has taken many years to get back to the prior highs, only to then watch sales plunging again. The last high was in 2016, which had barely eked past the prior high of 2000, in this terribly cyclical business of long-term stagnation interrupted by deep plunges:

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