U.S. auto sales will fall about 20 percent this year and not recover from the coronavirus pandemic for more than half a decade, according to AlixPartners.
In its Global Automotive Outlook released Thursday, the consulting firm projected that U.S. sales will fall to 13.6 million this year from 17.1 million last year and not return to 17 million until 2026. The forecast extends to 2027 without reaching the peak of 17.55 million sales set in 2016.
The virus has damaged economies around the world, and global sales are projected to plunge 21 percent this year to 70.5 million from last year's 89.7 million. From 2020 through 2022, 36 million sales will be lost compared with 2019's run rate, AlixPartners projected.
"The impact of the COVID-19 crisis globally is as if a market the size of all of Europe had vanished for the year," Stefano Aversa, chairman of Europe, the Middle East and Africa at AlixPartners, said in a statement.
The firm also projected that the U.S. market would continue to shift from cars to crossovers and SUVs. Car sales are expected to slide from 24 percent of light-vehicle sales in 2020 to 20 percent in 2027. Crossover and SUV sales are projected to rise to 56 percent of the market by 2027 from 51 percent this year.