U.S. auto sales aren’t tumbling down a cliff, but they’re clearly no longer in flat, steady territory either.
After six monthly declines to start the year, the industry is down 2.4 percent halfway through 2019. It’s on pace to finish at slightly more than 16.9 million, which would be the first time shy of 17 million since 2014.
That’s still strong by historical standards. And all analyst bets are off if the Federal Reserve cuts interest rates this year, as rising auto loan rates have hurt demand.
“The U.S. economy continues to grow at a healthy pace. Jobs are plentiful and inflation remains low,” General Motors’ chief economist, Elaine Buckberg, said in a statement last week. “Auto demand was better than anticipated in the first half and we expect strong performance in the second half of the year. If the Fed cuts rates, as widely expected, lower financing costs will provide further support to auto sales.”
Here are some developments in the first half of 2019 and things to watch during…