May delivered the best month of new car sales the United States has seen since July 2005. Considering the rollercoaster the auto industry has been on for the past few years, which has included bankruptcies, gas shocks/spikes, global recessions and natural disasters, the bump in sales feels especially sweet. With nearly a decade passing, the auto market was a very different place since the last time sales were that high.
Bigger Was Better
In 2005, minivans were one of the most popular vehicle categories
Kia is all grown up now
In 2005, the most expensive Kia was the Amanti. It cost the average car shopper about $26,000.
Today’s most expensive Kia is the K900. It costs roughly $64,000.
It’s Raining Hybrids
In 2005, there were only six available hybrids – Ford Escape, Honda Accord, Honda Civic, Honda Insight, Lexus RX, and Toyota Prius. There were neither plug-in hybrids nor electric vehicles sold at that time. And more importantly, one could easily sum up the entire market as hybrids.
Today the market formerly known as hybrids is much more fragmented. There are plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles. With Hyundai’s first fuel-cell-powered car being sold just a few days ago, the electric drive market is dividing into further niches. In May, 59 electric drive vehicles reported sales.
In 2005, the vehicle with the best fuel economy was the Honda Insight. It got a respectable 52 miles per gallon combined and 666 were sold that year. Today, a Chevrolet Spark EV gets the best fuel economy at 119 MPGe. The rating MPGe didn’t exist in 2005.
In the summer of 2005, GM offered the auto industry’s first employee pricing program. Their market share soared to 33% in June and stayed commanding in July at 29%. Chrysler followed by offering Employee Pricing Plus. With that came perhaps the most unlikely pairing of pitchmen, former Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca and rapper Snoop Dogg.
We Used to Pay Cash
In 2005, leasing was a small percentage of the market at 16%. Most people brought cash to the dealership.
Less Pain at the Pump
In 2005, gas prices cost a lot less
In 2005, Facebook connectivity in your car wasn’t really an issue since by year's end, Facebook had only 5.5M users. At the close of 2013, Facebook had 1.23 billion users.
In 2005, one could still get a brand new Pontiac Aztek. Sadly, that was the last model year for the infamous vehicle. At last count, there were nearly 92,000 Azteks on US roads – 519 in Albuquerque.
The one trend that couldn’t be shaken? The Ford F-150. It was the best-selling vehicle in 2005 and remains in the top spot in 2014.
Jessica Caldwell is the Senior Director of Pricing & Industry Analysis for Edmunds.com. Follow @jessrcaldwell on Twitter.