How Many New Cars Are Sold Each Year? (2024)

Discover the trends in U.S. new car sales from 1976 to 2024, highlighting how economic events and consumer preferences have influenced the auto industry.

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Number of Retail Sales of Cars in U.S. (1976-2024)

* 2024 data consist of January - April

Data includes all passenger cars, including station wagons and trucks up to 14,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, including minivans and sport utility vehicles.
Source: US Bureau of Labor

Decades of Change in How Many New Cars Are Sold Each Year in the US

The history of new car sales over almost fifty years shows how resilient and adaptable the auto industry is. It began in 1976 with about 12.97 million new cars sold, and since then, sales have gone up and down due to changes in the economy, technology, and government policies.

1976-1990: Growth of the Number of New Cars Sold in US per year

During this time, car sales varied a lot. They reached their highest in the mid-1980s, with over 16 million cars sold each year. The state of the economy greatly affected these numbers, with sales slowing down during economic downturns.

1991-2005: Recovery and Prosperity

The early 90s marked a dip due to economic recession, bottoming out in 1991 with 12.31 million units. A recovery phase followed, culminating in 2000 with a robust 17.35 million number of new cars sold in us per year, underscoring a strong economic rebound.

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2006-2020: Economic Crises and Recovery

This period was marked by the Great Recession of 2008, which saw sales plummet to 10.40 million in 2009 — the lowest in decades. However, the industry gradually recovered, reaching a peak again in 2016 with 17.48 million sales before the COVID-19 pandemic caused another significant drop in 2020.

2021-2024: Pandemic and Partial Data

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were evident in 2020 with a sharp decline to 14.47 million sales. A slight recovery in 2021 was followed by a downturn in 2022 and 2023. The partial data for 2024, covering only January to April, shows just a slightly higher trajectory compared to previous years for now.

Influencing Factors and Future Trends

Several factors influence the number of how many new cars are sold each year in the us:

  • Economic Health: Economic expansions and recessions significantly impact consumer spending on new cars.
  • Technological Advances: Innovations such as electric vehicles and autonomous driving technology continue to reshape consumer preferences.
  • Government Policies: Environmental regulations and incentives for buying green vehicles affect market dynamics.
  • Consumer Trends: Changing preferences, such as the shift towards more sustainable and technologically advanced vehicles, dictate market trends.


The historical data on how many new cars are sold each year shows how the auto industry reacts to economic ups and downs, and changes in what consumers want and technology. How well the industry adapts to these changes will keep shaping its future.

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Meet ConsumerShield Research Team, dedicated to identifying risks in consumer products and championing consumer rights through rigorous research

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