"I think we're gonna have a lot of challenges in the broader macroeconomy here in the U.S.," Manzi said. "But in general, I think we're going to see a year of solid growth, solid employment gains and really good vehicle sales."Challenges facing auto retailers include the lingering global shortage of microchips, waning consumer sentiment and rising gasoline prices, he said.
Inflation also is a concern, as costs rise on vehicles, housing and food. That's a key reason consumer sentiment is at its lowest since 2011, Manzi said.
"Unless you were sleeping under a rock last year, you know that vehicle pricing has gone up fairly significantly," Manzi said.
Wholesale used-vehicle values hit record after record in 2021. But values could peak in the coming months as tax return season stimulates demand, Manzi said. He expects them to level off, with seasonality returning through the year.
"I do want to be clear, though, that I do not expect to see a dramatic fall-off in used-vehicle values that comes abruptly," Manzi said.
He also predicted that 2019 level prices will not return. There could be an elevated floor for used-vehicle values going forward, he said. The average used-vehicle transaction price was $26,709 in 2021, up from $22,027 in 2020 and $20,094 in 2019, according to NADA.
At the same time, he added, if gasoline prices remain high, more customers could consider purchasing vehicles with alternative powertrains.