"We believe supply chain issues will likely impact many new vehicle launches as all production is stressed right now," Cox's Smoke said. "We suspect the auto makers with the strongest supply chains will do well this year, as demand is there.
"As many auto makers have noted, 'This year is about production, not about sales.' So, they can sell whatever they can build in 2022. The challenge will be building."
The Russian invasion of Ukraine also could prove to be another unexpected supply chain hurdle for automotive producers, Brinley said.
"This is something that really is still working itself through (with its impact on auto manufacturing)," she said. "We will hear more and know more in the coming weeks, but we do expect it to have an impact for U.S. sales, as it relates to components coming from Russia or the Ukraine that could cause problems.
"We do not have anything precise on production, but any impact likely would be less in the U.S. than abroad."
Brinley also hinted that a situation could arise where inflation causes demand to drop, which would throw a different variable into what auto sales ultimately will end up at in 2022.
Cox analysts believe the tight vehicle supply will improve.
"The process will be slow, but the Cox Automotive team believes new vehicle inventory issues will gradually improve in the year ahead," Smoke said. "The worst of the 'empty-lot syndrome' is likely in the rearview mirror."
Other trends are expected to have a positive impact in the auto manufacturing industry, according to Cox, including the consolidation of car dealerships, which, as a larger group, gives the group greater capital and technology with which to work.
In addition, with the continuing pandemic, the consumer shift to online purchasing is expected to increase, as is the direct-to-consumer sales model, a philosophy with which Tesla has seen success.
"We believe the auto business is in for a healthy year," Krebs said. "Those who remain flexible and agile will manage just fine in the year ahead."