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New-Car Sales Fall for Second Consecutive Quarter in U.S.

New-Car Sales Fall for Second Consecutive Quarter in U.S.
  • Stay-at-home orders and plant shutdowns prompted by the spread of COVID-19 were a major impediment to sales between April 1 and June 30.
  • FCA has reported a quarterly decline in U.S. sales of 39 percent; GM, a decline of 34 percent. Hyundai saw its March sales drop by 18 percent.
  • We will update this story as other automakers release quarterly sales numbers.

Most automakers have shifted to a quarterly release of U.S. new-vehicle sales data, but if they were hoping to limit the number of bad headlines during the COVID-19 crisis, perhaps a biannual or even biennial release schedule would be better. When automakers reported 2020’s first-quarter sales in early April, one optimistic message at the time was that we would have to wait until second-quarter numbers were released to get a better handle on the coronavirus’s true impact on the industry.

Well, the second quarter is here and the verdict is in: this thing is real, but the hard decline of April was mitigated by two months, May and June, that weren’t quite as bad. Fleet sales were hit hard, and supplies were low for most of the quarter, given that automakers did not manufacture many vehicles once COVID-19 had shut down factories around the world.

GM: Sales Down 34 Percent, Blazer Did Well

General Motors saw a sales decline of 34 percent across its brands in the second quarter compared to 2019, selling 492,489 vehicles in the last three months.

The few bright spots, meaning models where the sales numbers were not in the negative, for the second quarter include the Chevy Blazer (up 68 percent compared to the same period last year), the Trax (basically flat, with a 3 percent increase), and some heavy-duty models. With most of GM’s U.S. factories back to “normal operating levels,” GM says that its supply of new vehicles will climb thanks to increased production as well as “capacity made available by lower rental volumes.”

Hyundai: Down 18 Percent, Fleets the Main Problem

sales were also down, moving a total of 141,722 vehicles in the second quarter, a 24 percent decrease from 2019. Year to date, Hyundai’s sales are down 18 percent, mostly due to fleet sales which, even though they only made up 2 percent of Hyundai’s total volume, were down 93 percent. The company said its retail sales were down only 3 percent in that time frame.

FCA: Down 39 Percent, Gladiator Strong

Fiat Chrysler sales were also down in the second quarter, dropping a serious 39 percent compared to the same time last year. FCA said May and June sales were higher than expected after April’s “economic havoc” caused by COVID-19. At least online sales are up, with FCA saying that about 20 percent of its new-vehicle sales now start as an online retail process, compared with just 1 percent last year. And people were undoubtedly interested in the all-new Gladiator, which saw its sales climb 174 percent in the second quarter. Even so, FCA sales are down 26 percent year to date compared to 2019.

Mazda: Up 11 Percent in June on Strength of New CX-30

Mazda, one of the few automakers still releasing monthly sales figures, actually saw an increase of 11 percent in June 2020 compared to 2019, with monthly sales up a total of 2498 units to 25,326. While the MX-5 Miata and CX-9 both saw increases, Mazda’s June numbers would have been down, just like other automakers, since all of its other models took a nosedive other than the brand new CX-30 crossover, which sold 3526 units in June 2020.

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