The US Auto Industry Summarized

As automobiles become smartphone accessories, they become an interesting industry to study. Here is a recent (since 1961) history of the US market.

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  • dicklacara

    Your use of the word “accessories” is interesting…

    As the automobile becomes an accessory of the iPhone, the iPhone itself will become an accessory of an iWatch or other wearable!

    • marcoselmalo

      Depends on whether either has a different enough use case and how the technologies interact with each other (whether one device is subsidiary to another). Will wearables be independent of phones or dependent? (Long term, I imagine they will be independent, at least until computers are environmentally ubiquitous).

      When Horace calls automobiles “accessories”, he is being partly provocative and partly tongue in cheek. An automobile, truck, or motorcycle still has a primary function completely independent of mobile communication/computing.

      I suppose the same argument could be made for wearables. A smart shirt would presumably still be a shirt.

      • charly

        Wearables and phones will be collective. You won’t really be able to use one without the other.

    • Padova44

      Human beings already are Apple accessories. Resistance is futile.

    • simon

      That’s what Horace repeatedly has been saying over the years. Eventually Apple will have to come up with something that’ll make the iPhone obsolete for many tasks.

  • Christian Peel

    Nice graphs! We know from the smartphone market that unit share does not always equal profit share. Do you have an idea of the profit share distribution?

    • It would be easily obtained from company reports as they are all public. I have not compiled that data.

  • dteleki

    I’m having trouble understanding these graphs because I’m confused by the graph coloration, which as near as I can tell, isn’t entirely consistent. In particular, in the 2 upper-left graphs, U.S. by Brand and Share, I don’t see Nissan Purple, Toyota Gray, or Honda Orange — as seen in Imported Brands and Japanese Brands; they seem to have been replaced by other colors. There may be other inconsistencies between Imported Brands and Japanese brands, and between U.S. by Brand and Share. Although some of this trouble may be caused by my monitor, I’m pretty sure it isn’t ALL my monitor.

    • Francisco


  • car commenter

    This is great! I’m also trying to collate auto data for China, EU, UK and US but it’s difficult to find like-for-like data, and China is very tricky because there are so many partnerships, so double counting is a problem. Please do a follow up with worldwide sales!

    Are your numbers cars, trucks or both? Presumably vehicles with more than 4 wheels are excluded, but how about minivans and large SUVs?

    Are these vehicle registration figures?

    Is Volvo in your chart, Volvo cars as opposed to Volvo trucks? If cars, shouldn’t you label it Geely, post takeover? If trucks, “Volvo Trucks” may be better to avoid confusion. I take it these are companies not brands, so BMW includes Mini since 2001.

    • Francisco

      I also figure these must be Co.’s.

      Therefore, VW must include Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, and Bugatti in addition to plain old Bugs, Rabbits, and Phaetons.

    • Volvo trucks are not included.

  • The way these graphs are colored is confusing — frankly, if you need a “legend” you’ve failed. Ideally these graphs would also be interactive, so you could view them in different ways (e.g. the second graph makes it look superficially like Ford (?) has lost a lot of market share, but it’s actually an artifact of the nearly black vendor (???) underneath it for part of the graph.