The automobile industry has been counted out repeatedly, only to come roaring back at top speed. Many pundits swore their certainty that the COVID-19 pandemic was a death knell for the U.S. car industry. Once again, they were wrong.
Second-quarter reports show that car sales have seen over a 50% increase from the previous year. Roughly 4.5 million vehicles were sold in the U.S. during that quarter. While the microchip shortage led to limited availability on many car lots, American consumers have by no means stopped purchasing vehicles.
The death of the auto industry has been greatly exaggerated, and not for the first time. While the industry continues to chug along, even if it doesn’t zoom as fast some years like others, distinct patterns in vehicle purchases continue to develop. Here are some current trends that experts expect to continue shortly.
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Cars and Technology
One of the biggest current trends in the auto industry is the relationship between cars and technology. As with every facet of 21st Century life, computerization, global connectivity, and technological advances will continue to play a role in the vehicles we buy and how we buy them.
Car manufacturers continue to incorporate computerized enhancements in their vehicles. The driverless auto still looms in the not-so-distant future, leaving us to continue to turn the steering wheel ourselves. In the meantime, cars will continue to roll out with increasingly advanced automated systems and compatibility with mobile devices.
In addition to innovations made to vehicle systems themselves, the way we shop for cars continues to trend toward the internet. Last year, almost 30% of car purchases were made online. This movement toward e-commerce in the auto industry is likely to continue.
Growing Market Share
Automobiles are still big money makers. The auto industry continues to capture an ever-growing portion of the market. This applies not only to cars themselves but to related purchases.
For instance, the market for car radiators continues to expand. A radiator is an engine component that cools the mixture of water and antifreeze as it circulates through the system. Experts expect the market for radiators to reach an eye-popping $9.6 billion by 2027. That’s for a single car part; imagine the dollar amount of all automotive-related parts and accessories.
A Move Toward Fuel-Efficiency
Another trend experts expect to see continuing is a move toward more fuel-efficient cars. While gas-guzzling SUVs are still prevalent in many areas, the popularity of compact, hybrid, and electric vehicles is beginning to rival that popularity.
Several factors lead to this shift in focus to more energy-efficient vehicles. The first is the current rise in gas prices. While some experts predict that prices will level out and possibly dip slightly over the fall and winter, prices remain significantly higher than in recent years. When gas prices go up, most consumers gravitate toward vehicles that will use less of it.
In addition, “green” consciousness is on the rise. Many consumers want a vehicle that leaves a smaller carbon footprint. Some are willing to pay the higher sticker price of a hybrid or electric car to achieve this end.