Honda projects that the market as a whole will close 2023 at 15.7 million vehicles. It’s unknown, Woelfer said, when the industry will be able to return to annual sales of 17 million vehicles.
“There was so much we had to do to get there; it was a different market,” he said, reflecting on pre-pandemic sales levels. The auto industry closed 2019 with sales of 17.1 million vehicles, down just 1.8 percent from17.3 million the previous year.
But some analysts have concluded that the retail market is starting to contract, as macroeconomic headwinds, such as rising interest rates and elevated transaction prices, continue to sideline buyers. A resurgence in fleet sales is helping fuel growth.
Woelfer does not see a softening of the retail market, but he said most segments are still undersupplied. The average Honda dealership has been operating with fewer than 10 days of supply of new vehicles, and Woelfer expects that level will be the reality through the end of the year.
“I do not see the dealers building inventory on their lots because the demand is there and they’re selling what we are able to provide,” he said.