Auto Sales are Dismal

Calculated Risk has an excellent graphic on auto sales. (Actually, that is a redundancy – all CR graphics are excellent.) The graph (shown below) indicates that vehicle sales (auto and light trucks) have recovered half way from the 2009 bottom to the average pre-recession levels (2002-2007) around 17 million new vehicles per year. As strong as the recovery has been, however, it has only gotten sales to the level that was experienced, on average from 1972 to 1985. The U.S. population was smaller then; 2/3 as many people in 1972 and 3/4 as many people in 1985. To have car sales now equivalent to the 1970s and 1980s on a per capita basis, the U.S. would see between 17.6 million vehicles in 2011 (compared to 1985) and 20 million (compared to 1972).