Cox Automotive

This week, Cox Automotive released its Q1 2021 U.S. Auto Sales Webcast. The session covered a variety of industry topics including an update on the economy, market performance of new and used vehicles, dealer sentiment, and future outlook. The live webinar was conducted by notable Cox Automotive experts such as Jonathan Smoke (Chief Economist), Charlie Chesbrough (Senior Economist), Zo Rahim (Manager of Economic & Industry Insights), and Kayla Reynolds (Industry Intelligence Analyst)


  • The Biden Administration is hoping to build a stronger economy for Americans through the American Rescue Plan. Biden’s agenda items include stimulus, infrastructure, regulation, and taxes.
  • The overall automotive economy was up 5.0% year-over-year in Q1 of 2021. The increase was also an improvement from Q4 of 2020, suggesting the overall economy is headed in the right direction.
  • Americans are spending more on new vehicles, leading to an increase in car buyers taking out loans. Auto Finance was up to $162 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020. This was an increase of $3 billion from Q4 in 2019. 
  • Dealer sentiment for the current market varied among different dealer categories. While franchise dealers scored a strong 61 on the Dealer Sentiment Index for Q1 2021, independent dealers scored a much weaker 45. However, both franchise and independent dealers believe the market for vehicles will be very strong 3 months from now as franchise dealers scored 68 for future outlook and independents scored 56.
  • After a weak February, the New-Vehicle Sales SAAR is expected to pick up. The monthly SAAR for the month of March currently sits at 16.5, a positive indication for dealers. Tracking data reveals robust retail sales, which should look more like 2019 than last year.

Be sure to watch the entire presentation to learn more about the current state of inventory, used-car sales, customer sentiment, future forecasts, and more. You can watch the recorded presentation in the Cox Automotive Newsroom.

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