Economists this spring tracked the 2017 yearly new-car totals to the final digit, buttoning down the final count at 17.25 million, while automotive analysts crunched the numbers further to see if buying trends favoring SUVS and trucks keep pace.
Yet the real market by volume involves used cars, which reached 39.2 million last year and maintained a more than 2-to-1 lead over the bright, hardly driven vehicles that rolled out of the manufacturing plant in the past 12 months.
"We're well entrenched in the era of crossovers now, but that doesn't mean automakers have totally abandoned the traditional car," says Kelly Pleskot in a July article in Motor Trend magazine.
Consumers haven't slowed down in purchasing previously owned cars and trucks from 2017 models and earlier, according to at least one automotive tracking source.
"The used vehicle market remains hot as retail buyers show strong demand for affordable personal transportation and dealers are eager to procure inventory to meet the retail demand," said Anil Goyal, executive vice president of operations for Black Book Market Insights — part of Hearst Business Media Corp.
Black Book Market Insights, which describes itself as providing "in-depth analysis of used car and truck valuation trends and insights straight from the auction lanes," said that values of sporty car and compact car segments increased the most by segment. "A handful of cars (were) showing increases in early September, as well as trucks," the company said.
Overall values rose by .09 percent in August and early September, compared with a .08 percent drop in the prior four weeks. Meanwhile, the truck segment which includes pickups, SUVs and vans, declined .04 percent after a .13 percent slide in the previous four weeks. Full-size van and full-size crossover SUV values jumped the most in early September, according to Black Book Market Insights.
Motor Trend found that largest players in used car deals also tended to be the most well-known new-car brands, too.
Toyota Camry lead the top 10 used car list of sales through the first half of 2018 with 178,795 vehicles. Following the popular sedan in order were the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Nissan Sentra, Hyundai Elantra, Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Cruze and Chevy Malibu. Similar figures for trucks, SUVs and vans were not readily available.
New vehicle sales totals for 2017 stem from Automobile magazine.
Meanwhile, Edmunds online car shopping and information company noted in March that used car sales climbed to an all-time high of 39.2 million vehicles last year. This reflects a 1.6 percent increase in sales from 2016 and a 4.3 percent increase from 2012.
Its analysts attribute the used car sales spike to "increased replacement demand due to hurricanes Harvey and Irma (in 2017)" as well a higher share of used car inventory as score of vehicles came off leases last year. Used vehicle prices meanwhile rose 1.4 percent in 2017, compared with the 3.6 percent average increase between 2012 and 2016.
"Consumer demand for SUVs — which were limited in supply — is really what helped fuel the modest price growth that the used market eked out in 2017," said Ivan Drury, senior manager of industry analysis at Edmunds. "Shoppers looking for better deals on newer used vehicles will likely find them on two- to three-year-old passenger cars," he said.