As we head into 2021, middle-market manufacturers have many reasons to be optimistic about the coming year, but headwinds persist. What lies ahead? Plante Moran experts share the key themes and trends likely to have an impact.

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Demand for higher-priced vehicles from retail buyers at the end of 2020 helped lift U.S. auto sales out of a springtime slump and buffered the impact of a sharp drop in fleet sales to rental-car companies. Automakers likely sold about 15.9 million new vehicles on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate basis in December, down 4.7 percent from a year ago, according to an average of five market researcher forecasts.

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• Great Deal to Start the Year: Two Webinars for the Price of One
• 34th Annual Automotive Outlook Conference to Feature Global Experts
• Roundtable to Examine What’s Hot and What’s Not in 2021 Vehicle Line-up
• Despite “Remarkable” Rebound, Auto Industry Faces Many Challenges in 2021
• Auto Suppliers Bloodied, But Not Beaten
• Auto Sales in 2020 Expected to Hit Lowest Point in Nearly a Decade
• Ford Looks at Consumer Life, Post-Pandemic
• The Car Industry Survived the Pandemic. Here’s What the Future Holds
• New Car Sales See Mixed Finish in December After Tumultuous Year
• The Automakers That Have Won Big or Lost Ground Going Into 2021
• Cuts Likely as Fiat Chrysler-PSA Tie-Up Nears Approval
• Auto Sales are Down, but Dealer Profits are Up, in Topsy-Turvy 2020
• Used-Car Sales Likely Down for 2020, But Close Year on High Note
• 4th Quarter Industry Insights Examines the State of the Automotive Supply Base

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The SAA has a robust line-up of events planned for 2021. Check regularly for updates.

Click here to learn more.

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President-elect Joe Biden played a central role as vice president during the Obama administration, pulling together a task force that is widely credited with saving General Motors and the then-Chrysler, along with as many as 1 million American automotive jobs. Looking forward, the fast-evolving transportation industry is expected to play a central role in Biden’s plan for economic recovery.

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IHS Markit has published three insight pieces providing research and perspectives into how the U.S. new and used vehicle ecosystems have already evolved from their pre-COVID-19 days, and, more importantly, what the more settled post-COVID-19 world, when it does arrive, will look like. These papers help navigate a path to a “new normal” in such unique times.

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The Detroit 3 (FCA, Ford, GM) and their international counterparts and suppliers with manufacturing and assembly in North America have started to return to life this week after a two-month lockdown due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The automakers have redesigned assembly lines and added additional training for autoworkers in an increased effort to avoid additional outbreaks of COVID-19 that could throw off production for a second time.

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Last Sunday I was honored to present FSG’s Global Economic Outlook at the Society of Automotive Analysts’ Outlook conference in Detroit, the unofficial kickoff of the prestigious North American international Auto Show. I lightheartedly titled my presentation “How to Stop Worrying and Love Volatility” because 2019 promised to feel even more unstable for business and investors than 2018.

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Forecasts for economic growth in the US are being revised up following corporation tax cuts that are also boosting investment spending by US companies. The short-term boost to the domestic US economy will support car demand at a time when analysts say some cyclical downturn to vehicle sales in the US is to be expected.

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