2021 Toyota Mirai parked on salt flats

Why do car model years come out early?

The Model Year, Explained

As we grow up in the US, we come to terms with a lot of things. Taxes aren’t included on price tags. Most ATMs will charge you to get your own money. Tipping is mandatory…unless it’s not. There’s a lot of things in America that don’t seem to make sense on the surface, but we’ve come to accept as common knowledge. Most of these things have an explanation, and usually a pretty complicated one. Let’s explore one weird thing in particular:

Why do car model years come out early?


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Why Cars Year Don’t Match the Calendar Year

There are multiple reasons for this phenomenon, but the two major factors in starting it were the harvest times for farmers and winter weather. At least that’s the consensus according to Boston-based auto analyst and historian, John Wolkonowicz, and Ford Motor Company’s in-house historian, Bob Kreipke.

Mr. Wolkonowicz says that, “the automotive model year started back in the [1910s]. Farmers would harvest their crops and sell them every fall, and that’s when they had enough cash in their pockets to go out and buy a car. And that’s how the model year started, and eventually that’s how the fall introduction of new cars started.” Mr. Kreipke thinks the weather also played a part, as “in the early days, assembly plants in northern states had trouble with lighting and heating in the winter months, so they mostly produced in the summer months and then put the cars out for sale in the fall.”

calendar date marked by a push pin

Television and Motor Vehicles

After World War II, the American auto industry decided that the start of the new model year would be October 1 of the preceding year. This coincided with the TV industry’s new season of shows introduced each fall. As a result, automakers started advertising their new vehicles during brand new shows, resulting in new products being shown to a huge audience.

Looking to Buy a New Model Year Vehicle?

Here at Arlington Toyota, we have almost 300 new 2020 Toyota vehicles available to chose from. Schedule a time to come on down and test a couple out. If you have any questions, feel free to give us a call.