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U.S. Automobile Exports Soar, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

America’s new car dealers saw 13.7 million units sold in 2022, compared to 14.9 million units sold during 2021 and 14.4 million units in 2020.  This is down from the peak of 17.6 million units in 2016 according to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA).  In addition, U.S. automobile exports have been strong in recent years, reaching an all-time high in 2022 of $136.1 billion, compared to $122.8 billion in 2021 and $106.5 billion in 2020.  The Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 shut down auto plants temporarily, but they quickly reopened with enhanced safety measures in place.  In many cases, however, it was difficult to get enough workers back on the job due to the pandemic.  There were also big problems in the supply chain.  A massive shortage of the various types of computer chips that are incorporated in automobiles slowed vehicle production dramatically.  The net result was a slowdown in both domestic sales and exports, and a very challenging shortage of inventory at new car dealers.
Meanwhile, manufacturers in the U.S. and globally are faced with redesigning and retooling for what is forecast to be a booming long-term market for electric vehicles (EVs).  The supply chain issues in EVs are very challenging, as massive investment is required in new battery plants and the manufacture of the special electrical controls and systems required for EVs. 
Investment in EV manufacturing plants in the U.S. is skyrocketing thanks to initiatives from the Biden administration.  The Center for Automotive Research reported $33 billion in new electric auto factory investment in 2023, including assembly plants and battery plants.  This figure is on top of tens of billions of dollars invested in earlier years.  Ford, for example, is building a new EV plant in Tennessee with an expected annual capacity of 500,000 electric trucks per year.  Ultimately, Ford hopes to produce 2 million EVs per year by 2026.  Massive federal financial incentives are fueling a rush to build new batter plants in many parts of the U.S.
Meanwhile, American manufacturers are shifting away from making sedans to focus on better-selling SUVs and pickup trucks, along with a growing number of electric vehicles.  Ford ceased producing most sedans in North America in late 2020, focusing instead on crossovers and SUVs, including the Ford Mustang Mach-E model.  GM’s 2023 lineup had only three sedans, the Chevy Malibu and the Cadillac CT4 and CT5.

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