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US New Cars market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the New Cars market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?


For the purposes of this Report, a “new car” means any newlyassembled vehicle that has never been titled or registered before purchase and comes with a new vehicle warranty that initiates when the vehicle is sold.

“Car,” as defined for the purposes of this Report, will stand for any of the following vehicles that are bought through retail avenues and are intended for non-commercial use only: sub-compact, compact, mid-sized or full-sized sedans, hatchbacks, or convertibles; compact, mid-sized, or full-sized SUVs (sport utility vehicles); compact, mid-sized, or full-sized crossovers; minivans or MPVs (multipurpose vehicles); compact, mid-sized, or full-sized pickup trucks or vans; any type of hybrid electric, electric, or alternativelyfueled vehicle; any type of luxury vehicle; any type of classic car; or any variation above, so long as it’s for non-commercial usage.

Large trucks and recreational vehicles are not covered, regardless of usage type. The Report also excludes private, or sale by owner vehicle purchases, regardless of vehicle or usage type.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Buddy Lo, a leading analyst in the Automotive sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

New vehicle sales through 2017 have confirmed that the auto industry hit “peak auto” in 2016, meaning growth in new vehicle sales will end this year. Despite the slowdown, Mintel estimates a healthy 17 million units will be sold in 2017. The stagnant market means that auto manufacturers will need to gain market share for growth in a shrinking market. This means building high-quality products for their segments and putting forward a marketing message that will increase consideration and lead to shoppers on the dealership lot. Buddy Lo
Automotive Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • The issues
          • New vehicles sales expected to drop after record sales in 2016
            • Figure 1: Total US unit sales and fan chart forecast of new passenger cars and new light trucks, 2012-22
          • Purchase intent trending downwards since July 2016
            • Figure 2: Purchase intent, July 2016-June 2017
          • Influx of off-lease vehicles will pressure new car sales
            • Figure 3: Method of acquisition, by most recently acquired vehicle, 2013-17
          • The opportunities
            • Major life events correlate with a high purchase intent
              • Figure 4: Purchase intent, by major life events, June 2017
            • Reliability and condition most appealing attribute of a new car purchase
              • Figure 5: New car attributes, June 2017
            • Younger shoppers can be won over with low monthly payments
              • Figure 6: Attitudes toward cars, by age, June 2017
            • What it means
            • The Market – What You Need to Know

              • New car sales expected to drop for 2017
                • Crossover sales nearly matches all passenger car sales
                  • NAFTA Renegotiations could dramatically change sales environment
                  • Market Size and Forecast

                    • Peak auto sales reached in 2016
                      • Figure 7: Total US unit sales and fan chart forecast of new passenger cars and new light trucks, 2012-22
                      • Figure 8: Total US unit sales and forecast of new passenger cars and new light trucks, 2012-22
                  • Market Breakdown

                    • Light truck sales outperform passenger cars
                      • Figure 9: Total US unit sales and fan chart forecast of new passenger cars and new light trucks, by segment, 2012-22
                      • Figure 10: Total US unit sales of new cars, by segment, 2015 and 2017
                    • Crossovers accounted for more than half of entire light truck segment
                      • Figure 11: Light truck sales, by segment, 2016
                    • Midsize cars represent the bulk of passenger car sales
                      • Figure 12: Passenger car sales, by segment, 2016
                  • Market Perspective

                    • Certified pre-owned inventory will pressure new car sales
                      • Figure 13: Method of acquisition, by most recently acquired vehicle, 2013-17
                  • Market Factors

                    • Purchase intent trending downwards
                      • Figure 14: Purchase intent, July 2016-June 2017
                    • Unemployment rate remains low, a positive indicator for new car sales
                      • Figure 15: Unemployment and underemployment, January 2007-June 2017
                    • Consumer confidence remains high
                      • Figure 16: Consumer Sentiment Index, January 2007-June 2017
                    • Renegotiated NAFTA terms will impact auto industry
                      • Low gas prices fuel SUV and crossover boom
                        • Figure 17: US gasoline and diesel retail prices, January 2007-June 2017
                    • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                      • Ford F-Series remains staple of US auto landscape
                        • Nissan Rogue overtakes top brands to take top non-pickup slot
                          • Ford Fusion falters fantastically
                            • Volvo announces commitment to an all-electric/hybrid lineup by 2019
                              • Toyota’s cloud platform provides an enhanced driving and ownership experience
                              • Sales by Auto Brands

                                • Majority of brands see declines through July 2017
                                  • Figure 18: Unit sales and market share, by brand, 2016-17 through July sales
                              • What’s Working?

                                • Ford F-Series Top Selling Vehicle in US
                                  • Figure 19: Ford F-150 acquisition email, August 2017
                                • Nissan Rogue top selling non-pickup truck in US
                                  • Figure 20: 2017 Nissan Rogue acquisition email, August 2017
                              • What’s Struggling?

                                • Sub-zero sales climate for subcompact cars
                                  • Ford Fusion flops with falling sales
                                  • What’s Next?

                                    • Volvo commits to an all-electric lineup by 2019
                                      • Big data to play a role in enhancing driving experience
                                        • Ford bringing back the Bronco and the Ranger
                                          • Mazda unveils plans for compression ignition gasoline engine
                                          • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                            • Child birth and buying property correlate with high purchase intent
                                              • Reliability is the most appealing trait of a new car purchase
                                                • Younger shoppers more concerned about lower monthly payments
                                                  • Extra eyes for the driver are attractive features
                                                  • Purchase Intent

                                                    • Half of consumers planning on buying a car within three years
                                                      • Figure 21: Purchase intent, June 2017
                                                    • Millennials continue to drive purchases
                                                      • Figure 22: Purchase intent, by generation, June 2017
                                                    • Life events prompt car purchases
                                                      • Figure 23: Purchase intent, by major life events, June 2017
                                                  • Vehicle Types Considered

                                                    • Sedans and SUVs most considered vehicle types
                                                      • Figure 24: Vehicle types considered, June 2017
                                                    • Life events impact vehicle types considered
                                                      • Figure 25: Vehicle types considered, by major life events, June 2016
                                                    • Pickups rule rural routes
                                                      • Figure 26: Vehicle type, by area, June 2017
                                                  • Purchase Type

                                                    • Majority of shoppers aspire for a new vehicle purchase
                                                      • Figure 27: Purchase type, June 2017
                                                    • Younger women exhibit fiscal prudence on their next car
                                                      • Figure 28: Purchase type, by gender and age, June 2017
                                                    • Blacks considering used while Whites and Hispanics opt for new
                                                      • Figure 29: Purchase type, by race and Hispanic origin, June 2017
                                                  • Vehicle Use

                                                    • Running errands tops vehicle use
                                                      • Figure 30: Vehicle use, June 2017
                                                    • Men look to drive for ride sharing services
                                                      • Figure 31: Vehicle use, by gender and age, June 2017
                                                    • Driving for pleasure increases with age
                                                      • Figure 32: Vehicle use, by age, June 2017
                                                      • Figure 33: 2018 Acura TLX acquisition email, August 2017
                                                    • Big data could make running errands more efficient
                                                      • Figure 34: Vehicle use, by gender and age, June 2017
                                                  • New Car Attributes

                                                    • Reliability of a new vehicle most appealing attribute
                                                      • Figure 35: New car attributes, June 2017
                                                      • Figure 36: Hyundai’s “better than ever” sales event, direct mail, June 2017
                                                    • Problem-free new cars most appealing to women
                                                        • Figure 37: New car attributes, by gender, June 2017
                                                      • Midwesterners like being the first owner
                                                        • Figure 38: New car attributes, by region, June 2017
                                                    • Auto Features

                                                      • I can see clearly now, my blind-spot’s gone
                                                          • Figure 39: Auto features, June 2017
                                                        • TURF analysis of auto features
                                                          • Figure 40: TURF analysis – Technology and safety features, June 2017
                                                      • Attitudes toward Cars

                                                        • Dealership reputation matters
                                                          • Figure 41: Attitudes toward cars, June 2017
                                                        • Technology breeds security issues among Millennials
                                                          • Figure 42: Attitudes toward cars, by generation, June 2017
                                                        • Younger men have the need for speed and low monthly payments
                                                          • Figure 43: Attitudes toward cars, by gender and age, June 2017
                                                          • Figure 44: Chevrolet Camaro online advertisement, January 2017
                                                          • Figure 45: Chevrolet Camaro online mobile advertisement, January 2017
                                                      • Cluster Analysis

                                                          • Figure 46: New cars segments, June 2017
                                                        • Apathetic Shoppers
                                                          • Characteristics
                                                            • Opportunities
                                                              • Figure 47: Profile of apathetic shoppers, June 2017
                                                            • Bells and Whistles
                                                              • Characteristics
                                                                • Opportunities
                                                                  • Figure 48: Profile of bells and whistles, June 2017
                                                                • Life Event Drivers
                                                                  • Characteristics
                                                                    • Opportunities
                                                                      • Figure 49: Profile of life event drivers, June 2017
                                                                    • Practical Shoppers
                                                                      • Characteristics
                                                                        • Opportunities
                                                                          • Figure 50: Profile of practical shoppers, June 2017
                                                                      • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                        • Data sources
                                                                          • Sales data
                                                                            • Fan chart forecast
                                                                              • Consumer survey data
                                                                                • Consumer qualitative research
                                                                                  • Direct marketing creative
                                                                                    • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                      • Abbreviations
                                                                                      • Appendix – Market

                                                                                          • Figure 51: New vehicle sales, by new passenger cars and new light trucks, 2011-16
                                                                                          • Figure 52: Total US new passenger car unit sales, 2012-22
                                                                                          • Figure 53: Total US new light trucks unit sales, 2012-22
                                                                                          • Figure 54: New vehicle sales market share, by segment, 2016 (total) – July 2017
                                                                                      • Appendix – Key Players

                                                                                          • Figure 55: Total US Unit sales, by model, through July 2017