Rising interest rates, negative equity in vehicle loans and used vehicle price deflation are said to resemble conditions that existed in 2004.
The auto industry could experience significant sales declines this year, according to Deutsche Bank analysts.
Lackluster sales early in the year and declines in March are viewed as evidence of more trouble ahead, potentially reversing years of gains since the 2008 recession rocked the industry.
"Somewhat ominously, today's market increasingly resembles one we described in 'A Triple Threat,'" said Deutsche Bank's Rod Lache, Mike Levine and Robert Salmon, as quoted by Bloomberg. "In that report we highlighted the risks to the industry from rising rates, rising negative equity in vehicle loans and used vehicle-price deflation. This could lead to deteriorating affordability, delayed trade-in cycles, consumer shifts from new to used, diminishing credit availability and deteriorating mix/pricing."
Car 'scrappage' has dropped to approximately 11 million vehicles annually, down several million units from the number of vehicles taken off the market 10 years ago. The analysts suggest the US market could be "broadly oversupplied," leading to a self-correction that could hurt new-car sales.
Despite the gloomy outlook, Deutsche Bank expects pickup demand to continue growing this year.