If you’ve ever purchased a new car, you might have noticed that the dealership lot most likely had models from the current year and the next year already on it. You’ve also may have seen commercials on television touting the 2018 model even though, at the time, it was still 2017. You may have asked yourself, “Why do car manufacturers release next year’s cars this year?” “When do new car models come out?” The answer is a bit of a complicated one.

FORD INFLUENCE

Henry FordBack in the early 1900s, Henry Ford was the name in automobiles. He is credited with starting the tradition of releasing new cars the year prior. It was all because of farmers and the weather.

Back then, farmers would have money in the fall after they harvested and sold their crops. Ford saw this as a prime time to make new cars with new technology available. The weather played a factor as well, as manufacturing plants tended to have problems staying lit and heated in the winter. They would build all the cars in the spring and summer, and then release them in the fall.

WHAT IS A MODEL YEAR?

The car industry, as a collective, agreed that October 1 would be the beginning of the new model year after World War II. When television arrived and became popular, automobile ads coincided perfectly with networks’ new fall programming schedules. New models would be trucked to dealerships under covers and employees would throw parties to celebrate the newest arrivals.

However, recent years have shown that less and less “new” models come out on a yearly basis. This is mainly due to the cost of meeting the government’s regulations for emissions, safety, and fuel economy. It used to be profitable for manufacturers to release new models every three years or so. However now, profit is not usually made until five or six years after a new model is released.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Thanks to farmers, government regulations, and the weather, car manufacturers have officially defined the fall as the time when brand new cars, with all the new bells and whistles, are released. Mr. Ford saw the practical benefits of making sure farmers had money to burn before he tried to sell them a new car. So when do new car models come out? Now you know.

Check out our best of 2018 Ford review here.