AUTOMOTIVE INSIGHT: Will Market Drop Set Historic Record?

July 16th, 2008 at 7:45pm

As heard on
WWJ Newsradio 950

Listen to this story:

Car sales are in bad shape, but they’d have to get a lot worse to set a record.

In the last 50 years sales of new vehicles have gone through four major downturns. From 1955 to 1957 sales of new vehicles dropped 18 percent as the country went through a recession. During the oil embargo in the early 1970s sales dropped nearly 24 percent . But it was during the second oil crisis that sales dropped the most. They fell 31 percent from 1978 to 1982.

And the fourth big downturn was during the first Gulf War in 1991 when sales dropped nearly 17 percent . So even though sales are bad right now, the downturn is about the same as in 1991.

To match the second oil crisis, sales would have to drop to about 12 million units. And of course, the all-time worst downturn was during the Great Depression. Between 1929 and 1932 car sales fell a staggering 75 percent.

One Comment to “AUTOMOTIVE INSIGHT: Will Market Drop Set Historic Record?”

  1. Craig Says:

    I think the biggest challenge in this particular sales drop isn’t the sales drop but the change in product mix. If you think from ’53-’58 the product mix didn’t change much…now the 70′s made us change that mix a little but it was before the birth of the Ford Explorer and even the Chrysler minivan. This change is more structural as everyone flees pickup trucks for recreational purposes and SUV’s. I can’t blame the Big 3 for selling the gas-guzzlers us Americans wanted to buy a few years ago….but ignoring the smaller car market appears to be a painful lesson.