The Folly Of Predictions: 2025 US Market Predictions Made in 2008 – Plus 2008 & 2018 Actuals – The Guesses and the Reality

Don’t ask why, but I stumbled into this chart used in a post by my son at the other site from 2011. It showed predictions of the US market in 2025 as part of the EPA’s work in revising its proposed 2017-2015 fuel efficiency standards. These predictions were made by the DOE and the research firm CSM. It shows actual 2008 sales and predicted 2025 sales by manufacturer. Even a quick glance shows how far off they were, from a 2018 vantage point. Of course 2025 is still seven years away; anything could happen.

It made me curious as to just how far off their predictions were from 2018 sales, so I wasted 45 minutes creating a spread sheet. But in addition to debunking these estimates, it does show meaningful information on how these companies have fared over the past ten years, in absolute and relative terms:

So here’s 2008 actuals followed by market share, the 2025 predictions and market share, and then 2018 sales (based on 11 months actuals), and 2018 market share. The second to last column shows the percentage change from the 2025 predictions to 2018 actuals. And the last column is the actual change from 2008 to 2018.

So what stands out? These folks weren’t the only ones who grossly underestimated the success of FCA back in 2008, which ended up beating the 2025 projections by 191%, thanks to Jeep and a nascent Ram. The Germans (except Porsche) all were expected to perform better. The same applies to Honda, Hyundai, Mazda, and Toyota. The trajectory of all these brands slowed down from their higher growth pre-2008 upon which the projections were obviously based. The big exceptions are Subaru, which has been a stellar performer, and of course Tesla, which has already exceeded its 2025 projections by 442%.  Ford did a bit better than expected, and GM did worse.

So much for the crystal ball.Well, for what it’s worth, their prediction for the total market (17.25 million) in 2025 is almost exactly the size of the current market (17.1 million). The luck of the draw.

How about reality?

The winners that outpaced the market growth of 23.5% from 2008 to 2018 are: Tesla (+21567%), Subaru (+238%), Kia (+110%), JLR (+82%), Hyundai (+71%), Porsche (+54%), Nissan (+43%), Ford (+40%),  and FCA (+35%).

The big losers (other than those that left the market) are: VW Group (not including Porsche): (-8%), GM (-6%), and BMW (-2%), Mazda (-1%). But Honda, Toyota, Mercedes, Mitsubishi and Volvo are also losers too, as their single-digit growth was below the market’s 23.5% growth from 2008 to 2018.

So now I should make my own projections for 2025 and hold myself accountable in seven years hence. Hmm…