Analysts for IHS Markit expect U.S. light-vehicle sales and North American production to rebound in 2022 and 2023, but they predict supply-chain problems and the resulting new-vehicle shortage persist at least through next year.
It could take until 2024 or even 2025 for the auto industry to satisfy pent-up demand and fully rebuild new-vehicle inventories, the forecasters say.
“We can only sell what we make, and we can only make what we can get parts to build,” says Colin Couchman, executive director, global light vehicle forecasting, IHS Markit, in a webinar Dec. 16.
The IHS Markit U.S. light-vehicle sales forecast is about 15.5 million units for 2022 vs. an estimated 15.1 million for 2021. That’s a slim improvement of 2.7% for 2022.
Beyond next year, the forecast calls for U.S. light-vehicle sales of about 16.8 million in 2023, and 17.6 million in 2024. That would be the first time U.S. auto sales topped 17 million since 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic.
Mark Fulthorpe, executive director of light-vehicle production forecasts at IHS Markit, says the shortage of computer chips isn’t the only persistent supply-chain problem.
There’s also a shortage of skilled workers, a lack of truck drivers and bottlenecks affecting certain raw materials, he says in the webinar.
The IHS Markit forecast for North American light-vehicle production is about 15.2 million. That would be an improvement of 14.7% vs. an estimated 12.9 million in 2021.
Production is expected to reach about 17.2 million units in 2023, the first time North American production would exceed pre-pandemic 2019. IHS Markit includes the United States, Canada, and Mexico in its North American production figures.
Fulthorpe says it’s liable to take until 2024 or even 2025 before inventory recovers sufficiently to where demand fluctuations once again become the main driver affecting sales and production. For now, he says, supply should improve, but demand continues to outstrip supply.