How Many Cars Are Sold Each Year in the U.S?

What do sales trends look like for the US car market? And what does it mean for your auto repair shop?
Let’s discover the answers! Here are the stats you need to know on how many cars are sold in the US each year.

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Highs and lows of the US car market

America’s car market has experienced many peaks and valleys since 1951.
The 1970s and 1980s were a great time for automotive sales. According to Statista, the US sold over 11.4 million cars in 1973 and 1986 respectively.
There were tough times as well. The auto industry was hit bad in 1982 as a result of the oil and energy crises a decade prior. Just under eight million cars were sold that year, according to Statista.
Vehicle sales did rebound from there, but have been on a steady decline in the preceding decades. Fast forward to the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, and car sales hit yet another low. Just over three million cars were sold in 2021, according to Statista.
(*Please note that these US car sales figures don’t include light-truck sales.)

Recent US car sales trends

The automotive sales market has struggled in recent years. US car sales declined every year between 2014 and 2021, according to Statista.
In 2014, the US automotive market sold nearly 8 million cars. Just six years later, that number of annual car sales fell drastically to under 4 million cars sold.

What are some reasons for declining sales?

There are many contributing factors to the decline in US car sales.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there were chip shortages in the market. This caused a lack of semiconductors in the global automotive market. 

Automotive manufacturers took this hit in the latter half of 2021. Hence, supply could not meet this demand and some production halted.

There was also a limited selection of vehicles. Japan auto manufacturer Toyota announced in 2022 they can’t meet their production target.

Additionally, price spikes played a big role. Statista data indicates that nearly half of consumers wanted to buy vehicles in March 2022. But the significant increase in car prices prevented them from doing so.

Electrical vehicles grew in 2022

According to Forbes’ Q2 reporting from 2022, EV sales accounted for 5.6% of the total auto market share. This figure represents growth when compared to EVs’ 2.7% total market share in 2021. 

Here are some reasons EV sales have increased:
  • A move towards clean energy
  • Changing consumer attitudes
  • Increased EV model performance
  • Government incentives to support EV sales
  • Escalating fuel prices

Check out our eBook on strategies to prepare your shop for this EV growth and other emerging vehicle technologies.

Vehicle usage trends in 2022

284 million vehicles operated on US roadways in the second quarter of 2022, according to Statista.
Courtesy of Statista, here are some interesting stats on operating vehicles:
  • US drivers with incomes in the range of $50,000 to $75,000 own about 33% of the cars in use


  • The US vehicle fleet is aging, with an average vehicle age of over 12 years


  • 40 million used vehicles changed owners from 2021 to 2022


  • New registrations came to about 13.5 million


  • Gen X is the leading consumer of vehicle ownership

Why does this information matter?

Knowing the income bracket of your customers is useful. This info provides context to help you set everything from pricing to labor rates. Ultimately, a clear understanding of sales trends can maximize your revenue potential.
Many vehicles are older, which translates to more repair orders for your shop. It also means your marketing on common issues like worn brake pads and misaligned wheels may resonate more. Focus on older vehicle problems in your promotional materials, campaigns and social media posts.
Generation X is the group born between 1965 and 1980. This generation came after the baby boomers but before the millennials. You need to focus on the automotive habits of this generation, which is a target customer base.
Answer these questions:
What are their buying attitudes? What drives their buying decisions? How much do they care about the environment? How do they like to pay? Which marketing messages resonate with them?

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Final word

A few themes are clear from the data. Car sales are down, vehicles are older, and it’s a great time to run an auto repair business!
Factor these US car sales trends into your shop management strategies and stay one step ahead.

Frequently asked questions

13.8 million units of light vehicles were sold in the U.S. in 2022, according to NADA.

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