36 Important US Automotive Industry Statistics [2022]: Facts, Trends, And Projections

By Sky Ariella - Apr. 5, 2022

Research Summary. The auto industry is one of the most massive operations in the United States. Although the automotive industry took a hit during the pandemic, current trends show that it’s bouncing back unscathed:

  • The US produced 8.8 million vehicles in 2020, a 19% drop from 2019

  • 923,000 Americans work in motor vehicles and parts manufacturing, and 1,251,600 are employed by automobile dealers.

  • In 2020, the revenue of United States motor vehicle and parts dealers was $1.249 trillion.

  • The auto industry accounts for 3% of America’s GDP.

  • The US automobile industry sold an estimated 14,471,800 million cars and light truck vehicles in 2020.

  • The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) predicts that new light-vehicle sales will hit 16.3 million units for the year according to first-quarter sales in 2021, estimating an increase of 12.7% compared to 2020.

The market size of US car automobile manufacturing is $82.6 billion
US Automotive Industry Statistics by: US Economy | Jobs | Trends and Predictions | Pandemic | Environmental Impacts

General Automotive Industry Statistics

  • As of 2021, the total value of the car and automobile manufacturing market in the United States is $82.6 billion.

  • Over 14 million new light trucks and automobiles were sold in the United States in 2020.

  • There were 39.3 million used light vehicles sold in the United States in 2020.

  • In 2020, Americans bought an approximate total of 14,471,800 million cars.

  • As of 2019, 91.3% of households report having access to at least one vehicle.

  • There were 286.9 million registered vehicles in the United States in 2020.

  • There are approximately 1.41 billion vehicles registered in the world.

  • As a whole, Americans spend $698 billion annually on the combination of automobile loans and insurance.

  • Over 77.6 million vehicles were produced globally in 2020. The U.S. ranks only behind China in total vehicle production.

Vehicles Sold by Country 2020

Country Cars Commercial Vehicles Total % Y-o-Y Change
Global 55,834,456 21,787,126 77,621,582 -16%
China 19,994,081 5,231,161 25,225,242 -2%
USA 1,926,795 6,895,604 8,822,399 -19%
Japan 6,960,025 1,107,532 8,067,557 -17%
Germany 3,515,372 227,082 3,742,454 -24%
South Korea 3,211,706 295,068 3,506,774 -11%

The Automotive Industry and The US Economy

  • US vehicle sales fell by 14.7% in 2020.

    But 2021 sales are projected to mark an impressive recovery to just 700,000 vehicles short of 2019 numbers.

    US Vehicle Sales 2011-2021

    Year Vehicles Sold (millions)
    2011 12.8
    2012 14.5
    2013 15.6
    2014 16.5
    2015 17.5
    2016 17.6
    2017 17.2
    2018 17.3
    2019 17
    2020 14.5
    2021 (projected) 16.3
  • In 2020, around 1.4 million passenger cars and light vehicles were exported from the United States.

    The number of vehicle exports from the United States increased by 6%. Canada imported the most U.S. passengers vehicles in 2020.

  • The United States auto industry represents 3% of the total American GDP.

    Additionally, the auto industry is the United State’s largest exporter and generates more jobs than any other field. In the United States, the auto industry is one of the biggest investors in research and development.

  • $114.6 billion in direct foreign investments were put into the United States auto industry in 2018.

    In 2018, 1.8 million new light vehicles and 131,200 medium/heavy trucks were exported from the United States. These exports were worth an estimated total of $60 billion.

  • The United States ranked second in the global automotive market with 8,822,399 vehicles produced in 2020.

    The only country ahead of the United States in terms of vehicle production was China, with a massive production total of 25,225,242.

  • An estimated $82 billion was allocated by the United States Department of Treasury to bail out the auto industry.

    This was the second-highest amount that was filled out to businesses during government bailouts. The only other industry that surpassed this amount was banking institutions with $250 billion.

  • The top three automobile manufacturers in the United States are General Motors Company (GM), Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCAU), and Ford Motor Company (F).

    While there are other major vehicle manufacturers in the United States, these three are consistently dominating the auto market. Today, their biggest competition is foreign auto manufacturers from Europe, Japan, and South Korea like Toyota, Hyundai, and Honda.

  • US vehicle production has fallen by 27.7% since 2016.

    Down from over 12 million vehicles produced in 2016, America’s annual car production of 8.8+ million vehicles in 2020 represents a significant decline.

US Vehicle Production 2016-2020

Year Vehicles Produced
2016 12,198,137
2017 11,189,985
2018 11,314,705
2019 10,880,019
2020 8,822,399

Automotive Industry Jobs Statistics

  • The automobile industry employs over 1.7 million people in total.

    Jobs in the auto industry can focus on aspects like engineering, manufacturing, sales, and design.

  • As of November 2021, 923,700 people are working in motor vehicles and parts manufacturing jobs in the United States.

    This amount of employees working in auto manufacturing has risen from 906,900 in the previous year. That’s an increase of 16,800 positions in employment — a good start to an industry recovery from the pandemic.

  • US automotive employees over time

  • Around 2 million people work in auto sales jobs in the United States. The average hourly pay of an auto manufacturer employee is $25.51 as of November 2021.

    This average hourly pay has risen by $0.86 (3.5%) in the last year.

  • As of November 2021, 1,251,600 people are working at automobile dealerships.

    The number of people working at automobile dealerships has risen by 21,900 people from 1,229,700 since last year.

  • The average hourly pay of an automobile dealership employee is $25.41 as of October 2021.

    The average hourly pay of employees at auto dealerships has increased by $0.89 per hour (3.6%) since 2020, when the annual average was $24.52.

automotive employee earnings by sector

  • In 2020, the demand for vehicle purchasing dropped by 13.3%.

  • The automobile industry in the United States has routinely fluctuated between 10 million cars sold to 17 million cars sold since 1976.

    The economic recession of 2008 brought about some of the lowest rates of vehicle buying since the eighties. Since then, the amount of cars sold in the United States auto industry has slowly risen by 60% between 2009 and 2018.

  • The United States auto industry spends approximately $18 billion per year on research and development (RD).

    Despite being the highest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, the automotive industry accounts for the smallest percentage of global RD spending at 16%. Healthcare, electronics, and other industries all spend more on research and development. In the auto industry, the biggest contributors to RD as of 2013 were Volkswagen, Toyota, General Motors, Honda, and Daimler.

  • The automotive market in North America is predicted to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 7.22%.

    With this growth comes more of a focus on producing electric vehicles to meet the increasing demand and adhere to the guidelines for emission standards. The key trends predicted to occur in coming years are an increase in the number of electric vehicles sold and a more competitive market beyond the three biggest American auto manufacturers.

Automotive Industry Statistics in the Pandemic

  • Between 2019 and 2020, the total number of vehicles sold dropped by approximately 13.3%.

    In 2019, there were approximately 16,961,000 sales of light vehicles in the United States. This number dropped enormously to 14,471,800 retail vehicle sales.

  • US car sales over time

  • According to Kelly Blue Book, the average price for a new car has reached $38,723 as of September 2020.

    This is a price increase of 2.5% from the previous year. For the past 20 years, the cost of buying a new car has steadily been climbing from $21,850. That’s a price increase of over 56% since 2000.

  • The price of used cars increased by 17% between 2020 and 2021.

    The average price of a used car in 2020 was $23,371. This average price of a used car made an enormous leap to $27,297 in April of 2021. Within only a year, the price of a used car rose by nearly $4,000.

    This is a huge fluctuation compared to the price change between 2019 to 2020, when the cost of a used car declined by 0.2%.

  • Due to limited vehicle transportation during the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States decreased its emissions by 13% in 2020.

    However, this drop in emissions that occurred immediately after lockdowns began to quickly bounce back once the economy started turning around and regulations were lifted.

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that an estimated 38,680 people died in motor vehicle accidents in 2020.

    The administration reported a decrease of 13.2% or 430.2 billion miles in the number of miles traveled by vehicles in the United States. However, despite there being much less traffic on the road in 2020, there was still an increase of 7.2% in motor vehicle and traffic deaths from 2019.

Environmental Impacts of the Automotive Industry

  • 29% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States came from transportation in 2019

  • 58% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the United States transportation sector came from light-duty vehicles or passenger vehicles

  • While the world’s energy emissions fell by a record-breaking 7% in 2020, the emissions from SUVs have increased by 0.5%, and oil consumption from SUVs soared to 5.5 million barrels per day

  • The oil use in all cars other than SUVs has decreased by 10% or 1.8 million barrels per day in 2020, likely due to the impacts of COVID-19

  • From 2014 to 2019, Kia models achieved the largest reduction in their CO2 emission rates at 31 gallons per mile.

Automotive Industry FAQ

  • How much is the automobile industry worth?

    The US automobile industry is worth $82.6 billion.

  • What percentage of the economy is the auto industry?

    America’s auto industry accounts for 3% of the United States’ GDP.

  • Is the automotive industry the biggest industry?

    No, the automotive industry is not the biggest industry in the United Staets. The biggest industry is real estate, renting, and leasing. Auto manufacturing does make up a significant portion of America’s durable manufacturing industry, which ranks as the fifth-biggest in the nation.

  • Is the automobile industry growing?

    Yes, the US automobile industry is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 7.22%.

Conclusion

Americans depend on their 286.9 million registered vehicles to transport them across the roads, which is why the automotive industry is so incredibly profitable. The automotive field has been fluctuating in its sales numbers for about the past 50 years, but in general, vehicle manufacturers in the United States are still one of the largest industries out there.

Most recently, in 2020, the automobile industry did take a bit of a dip due to national lockdowns limiting driving and overall uncertain circumstances limiting the usual consumer demand for purchasing. 14,471,800 cars and light trucks were sold in the United States in 2020, representing a decrease of 13.3% from the previous year.

While it’s clear from recent statistics that COVID-19 has greatly impacted the auto industry’s annual sales numbers, first-quarter sales in 2021 demonstrate hope for there to be a turnaround in sales over the next year. It’s estimated that the United States automotive industry will sell 16.3 million units in 2021.

While the auto industry is unequivocally profitable, its products are responsible for an enormous amount of the dangerous emissions contributing to global warming. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, most greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation at 29%.

Of these emissions, 58% originated from light-duty vehicles, also known as the passenger vehicles that most people own. This is more than the greenhouse emissions from medium/heavy-duty trucks, aircraft, trains, boats, and any other method of transportation combined.

References

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Author

Sky Ariella

Sky Ariella is a professional freelance writer, originally from New York. She has been featured on websites and online magazines covering topics in career, travel, and lifestyle. She received her BA in psychology from Hunter College.

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