Archive: CAR Management Briefing Seminars 2012 • August 6–9, 2012

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Where Have All the Sales Gone?

Tuesday 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM

U.S. light vehicle sales increased by 10 percent in 2011 over the prior year.  However, the 2011 sales level was the fifth lowest in 30 years--and a 7 or 8 percent increase in sales in 2012 would only result in the sixth lowest sales total in three decades.  In fact, the 2009-2011 total of sales was the lowest 3-year total in 50 years--and sales of new vehicles relative to the number of potential buyers in the U.S. market are now at the lowest levels since the Great Depression.

Many reasons have been put forth to explain the fall-off in U.S. vehicle sales.  The 2008-2009 recession period was especially severe and many consequences of the downturn (lingering high unemployment, low consumer confidence, and poor credit markets) still exist.  Yet a natural recovery in vehicle sales based on pent-up demand has been disappointedly slow and the average age of operating vehicles has continued to rise with low rates of scrappage.  The question of whether low vehicle sale in the U.S. market are a cyclical phenomenon or represent the beginning of a secular change in vehicle ownership is now being considered.

This workshop will present a panel of leading vehicle sales forecasters from both consulting firms and companies.  They will be asked to make their case on where sales will be trending in the next 5 to 10 years in the North American market and their reasons why. No future numbers are now more important to the North American industry than these projections.  And no numbers are now more uncertain.  Both automakers and suppliers must begin their capacity planning and their mutual contracting starting with an agreed-upon future scenario for sales.  This workshop will seek to explain where all the sales have gone and when they might come back.


Sean McAlinden, Ph.D., Executive Vice President of Research and Chief Economist

Center for Automotive Research

Presentation Files: mcalinden_sean.pdf


Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, Chief Economist

Ford Motor Company

Presentation Files: hughes-cromwick_ellen.pdf

Jeff Schuster, Senior Vice President

LMC Automotive

Anthony Pratt, Director of Forecasting, The Americas


Presentation Files: pratt_anthony.pdf

Paul Taylor, Ph.D., Chief Economist

National Automobile Dealers Association

Presentation Files: taylor_paul.pdf