The Road Ahead for the U.S. Auto Industry
International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce
[Excerpt] In 2004, U.S. light vehicle sales were up slightly, reversing a moderate slide that began in 2001. The 1.3 percent gain brought the market total to 16.8 million units, approximately the same level as 2002, and the fourth highest sales on record. The trend, which began in 2001 of offering low or no cost financing along with high rebates has cast a cloud over the otherwise sunny sales outcome for the year. American consumers have continued the long-term shift towards a preference for light trucks over passenger cars. Trucks passed cars in 2001, hitting over half the market for the first time that year. In 2004, light trucks accounted for over 55 percent of the U.S. passenger vehicle market. Light truck sales reached 9.3 million units, up 3.6 percent over 2003. Passenger car sales were down 1.4 percent compared to 2003, reaching only 7.5 million units.
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