COVID-19

What’s been driving strong auto sales?

Mitchell Hartman Nov 3, 2020
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People look to buy a car at a dealership in New Jersey shortly after it reopened in May. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
COVID-19

What’s been driving strong auto sales?

Mitchell Hartman Nov 3, 2020
Heard on:
People look to buy a car at a dealership in New Jersey shortly after it reopened in May. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
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We’re in the middle of a historic election, and the economy keeps chugging along. We get an update on an important sector for both manufacturing and retail spending Tuesday: sales numbers for cars and trucks in October.

In spite of the pandemic, auto sales have been strong in recent months.

Back in April, with COVID-19 surging and the economy shutting down, production at auto plants dropped precipitously. Automakers retooled to be COVID-safe, and by May they’d started ramping up production again.

But Kristin Dziczek, vice president of industry, labor and economics at the Center for Automotive Research, said there still aren’t enough vehicles on dealer lots to meet demand.

“If you need a truck right now, you’re going to take the one that meets your criteria right now at the price they’re offering it, or you might be waiting a few months,” she said.

Still, with millions out of work and earning less, who’s buying?

Garrett Nelson, senior equity analyst at CFRA Research, said it’s primarily higher-income Americans in cities and suburbs.

“While they might be working from home, they need that vehicle to do their errands,” he said. “Maybe they had really not seen an automobile as a necessity before, whereas, because of the pandemic, they do now.”

He said with people shunning buses, Ubers, trains and planes, a lot of consumers want their own set of wheels.

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