New light-vehicle sales posted their weakest year in more than a decade, according to a report by the National Automobile Dealers Association.
At more than 13.7 million units, last year's sales were the lowest since 2011 and down 8.2% year-over-year, NADA Chief Economist Patrick Manzi said in the report.
The lighter volume is blamed on the ongoing microchip shortage and supply-chain slowdowns. And due to the microchip issue, carmakers focused on producing higher-trimmed light trucks. The larger light-truck segment gained market share, accounting for a whopping 79% of all new vehicles sold – up 1.6 percentage points year-over-year.
Crossovers kept their status as the most popular segment with consumers, making up 45% of new light-vehicle sales.
NADA said alternative-fuel vehicles – hybrids, plug-ins and battery-electric vehicles – also gained market share, representing 12.3% of new-vehicle sales, up 2.7 percentage points year-over-year.
New-vehicle inventory is on the upswing, and NADA said it expects it to keep gradually building, which could at least help sales. It cited a Wards Intelligence forecast that shows inventory on the ground and in transit in December up 51% year-over-year to 1.7 million units.
But as vehicle prices keep rising, affordability could cut into sales this year, especially with inflationary pressure and rising interest rates. Still, NADA said it expects 2023 to be “another great year for America’s franchised dealers.”