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Vehicle Sales Predictions: Top three trends shaping the year ahead for the automotive industry

Edmunds’ analysis forecasts 14.8 million new vehicles will be sold in new year, and highlights the ‘good, bad and ugly’ trends

Santa Monica, Calif.—Edmunds expects pent-up consumer demand and rising inventory levels to support new vehicle sales, forecasting that 14.8 million new cars will be sold in 2023. The forecast, drawn from Edmunds data, represents a 7% increase from their estimate of 13.8 million new vehicle sales in 2022.

“2022 was a mixed bag for the entire automotive industry. Sales were severely dampened by limited inventory, but automakers and dealers were able to rely on a dichotomy of affluent car shoppers and individuals making necessity-based purchases to keep things afloat — and the vehicles that they could sell commanded some hefty price tags,” said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds’ executive director of insights. “Although inventory levels have been slowly picking up toward the end of the year and should help meet pent-up consumer demand through 2023, a number of headwinds such as rising interest rates, inflation and economic uncertainty are likely to hinder a speedy recovery.”

Edmunds experts have put together their list of the three biggest industry trends that they predict will shape the road ahead in 2023, which they’ve separated into three categories — the good, the bad and the ugly — along with some direct consumer shopping tips.

The Good: New vehicle prices are expected to cool, with average transaction prices dipping below MSRP for the first time in more than a year

  • Edmunds data reveals that the average transaction price (ATP) for a new vehicle hit a record high of $47,681 in November 2022 — but this was also the first time since July 2021 that the ATP came in below the average MSRP. In November 2022, the average MSRP dropped to $47,696.
  • Edmunds experts note that the drop in price is concentrated across larger trucks, SUVs and luxury vehicles, whereas there is still increased demand for lower-priced mainstream vehicles. According to Edmunds data from November 2022:
    • The average MSRP for a large truck was $62,287 compared to an ATP of $61,076, offering a $1,210 discount on average. The average MSRP for a luxury midsize SUV was $74,161 compared to an ATP of $73,430, offering a $731 discount on average.
    • The average MSRP for a compact SUV was $35,137 compared to an ATP of $35,427, which reflects a $290 markup on average. The average MSRP for a compact car was $25,696 compared to an ATP of $26,398, which reflects a $703 markup on average.

The Bad: Leasing will continue to be out of reach for consumers as deals grow harder to find

  • Edmunds analysts say that leasing, once a popular option for U.S. consumers, has grown increasingly more expensive as inventory is slow to recover and interest rates remain high. Edmunds data reveals that the average monthly lease payment climbed to $583 in November 2022 compared to $471 in November 2019.
  • Edmunds data reveals that lease penetration fell to 17.4% in November 2022 compared to 28.3% in November 2019, and Edmunds experts expect the gap to continue widening.

The Ugly: Interest rates are climbing, making financing increasingly more expensive for consumers.

  • Edmunds experts note that lower interest rates (which were often subsidized by automakers) and longer loan terms helped Americans buy the bigger, feature-heavy vehicles that they love over the past decade. However, that trend is reversing and consumers are paying more than they ever have to finance new and used vehicles.
  • According to Edmunds data from November 2022, the average interest paid over the life of a new car loan climbed to an all-time record of $8,436, and the average interest paid over the life of a used car loan climbed to an all-time record high of $10,204.

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