Strong Economy Masks Auto Market Challenges, According to New Edmunds Report

Strong Economy Masks Auto Market Challenges, According to New Edmunds Report

Trade policy, interest rates, and an influx of younger buyers give auto sales a boost in the first half of 2018, but Edmunds forecasts market will cool later in the year

Santa Monica, CAJune 27, 2018 — So far 2018 has been a strong but inconsistent year for the auto industry, and according to a new in-depth report from the car shopping experts at Edmunds, the auto market could be nearing a tipping point.

“The strength of the economy is creating a very thick forcefield for automakers now, but once that starts to weaken, there are a lot of market factors bubbling just below the surface that could really start to slow down sales,” said Jeremy Acevedo, manager of industry analysis at Edmunds. “Even though millennials are finally starting to buy new vehicles, the U.S. market is virtually saturated. Add to that record-high vehicle prices, rising interest rates and historically high numbers of people who owe more than their cars are worth, and the stage is set for a market contraction.”

The Edmunds Midyear Automotive Market Trends report takes a deep look at the major factors that have influenced the industry so far in 2018, from economic indicators to trade policy to car shopping behavior and more.

The report also explores the trends that will shape the industry in the years ahead, such as the transition away from cars in favor of SUVs, the impact of the expiration of tax credits on electric vehicles, the impact of the flood of off-lease vehicles on residual values, and the rise in vehicle subscription offerings. The report is now available for download in the Edmunds Industry Center here.

This new report comes on the heels of Edmunds releasing its forecast for June auto sales, which are expected to be up slightly compared to last year. Edmunds forecasts that 1,519,072 new cars and trucks will be sold in the U.S. in June for an estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 17.1 million. This reflects a 4.1% decrease in sales from May 2018, but a 3.4% increase from June 2017.

“June sales look a bit healthier than they actually are because there was an additional selling day and weekend this year,” said Acevedo. “On a daily selling rate basis, June sales were actually lower than last year. This is exactly in line with how the rest of this year has gone: Sales look strong, but there are other factors at play that make this success a bit fragile.”


2018 Forecast
Change from
June 2017
Change from
May 2018
GM 256,793 243,155 265,030 5.6% -3.1%
Ford 229,046 227,166 241,527 0.8% -5.2%
Toyota 209,424 202,376 215,321 3.5% -2.7%
Fiat Chrysler 200,474 187,348 214,294 7.0% -6.4%
Honda 145,007 139,793 153,069 3.7% -5.3%
Nissan 133,307 143,328 131,832 -7.0% 1.1%
Hyundai/Kia 116,125 110,650 125,518 4.9% -7.5%
VW/Audi 48,491 46,793 50,526 3.6% -4.0%
Industry 1,519,072 1,468,867 1,584,660 3.4% -4.1%

*GM sales totals for May 2018 are estimated

**NOTE: June 2018 had 27 selling days, June 2017 had 26, and May 2018 had 26.

Edmunds estimates that retail SAAR will come in at 13.9 million vehicles in June, with fleet transactions accounting for 18.4 percent of total sales. An estimated 3.2 million used vehicles will be sold in June 2018, for a SAAR of 39.2 million (compared to 3.3 million — or a SAAR of 39.3 million — in May).


2018 Forecast
Change from
June 2017
Change from
May 2018
GM 16.9% 16.6% 16.7% 0.4% 0.2%
Ford 15.1% 15.5% 15.2% -0.4% -0.2%
Toyota 13.8% 13.8% 13.6% 0.0% 0.2%
Fiat Chrysler 13.2% 12.8% 13.5% 0.4% -0.3%
Honda 9.5% 9.5% 9.7% 0.0% -0.1%
Nissan 8.8% 9.8% 8.3% -1.0% 0.5%
7.6% 7.5% 7.9% 0.1% -0.3%
VW/Audi 3.2% 3.2% 3.2% 0.0% 0.0%

More insight into recent auto industry trends can be found in the Edmunds Industry Center at

About Edmunds
Edmunds guides car shoppers online from research to purchase. With in-depth reviews of every new vehicle, shopping tips from an in-house team of experts, plus a wealth of consumer and automotive market insights, Edmunds helps millions of shoppers each month select, price and buy a car with confidence. Regarded as one of America’s best workplaces by Fortune and Great Place to Work, Edmunds is based in Santa Monica, California, and has a satellite office in Detroit, Michigan. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


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