Americans continue to buy vehicles nearly as fast as they arrive on dealer lots, as the nation is rife with stories chronicling perpetually empty lots and some establishments making bank with obscene markups.
We’ll leave those latter two topics for another day. Meanwhile, despite a consumer hunger for new cars, the market is down sharply compared to this time last year – double-digit percentages, in fact.
Not a single solitary member of the B&B will be surprised to learn that supply chain headaches continue to plague the industry, restricting the number of vehicles available for delivery to customers. Last quarter – remember, most manufacturers only deem us worthy of sale reporting four times a year instead of on a monthly basis – saw a cratering of sales to 3.37 million units, down a staggering 21 percent compared to Q2 in 2021. Sure, the world has been topsy-turvy in terms of car sales for more than two years now, what with a global pandemic and chip shortages skewing data in ways we never would have imagined before we all learned the word ‘Covid’. Note some brands have yet to report their numbers.
Year-to-date, approximately 6.57 million new vehicles have been snapped up at American dealerships, down 18.5 percent from just over 8 million this time last year. If this pace is duplicated between now and when Santa Claus shows up, the market is on track for its worst showing since the bad old days when all hands were clawing their way out of the Great Recession. Still, unless something unthinkable happens on a global scale, we’re well ahead of 2009 when light vehicle retail sales bottomed out at a hair over 10 million.
It’s always fun to look at individual brands, so let’s do that. General Motors now sits atop the charts once again, after being embarrassingly usurped by Toyota for the U.S. sales crown last time around. This was thanks in no small part to a 22.9 percent overall decline across Toyota brands in this country compared to a 15.4 percent slide at GM. Dragging down RenCen most heavily was Buick, off by more than half compared to the same quarter in 2021 and so far this year. It’s not just a simple bad Q2 at the tri-shield brand, then; the entire annum has been difficult.
Across town, Ford stayed largely flat this past quarter and has weathered the year better than most, down just over 8 percent year-to-date. A strong June will result in breathless headlines saying the Glass House is up 31.5 percent which is true – for that single month. In June, Ford says they sold 1,837 F-150 Lightning pickup trucks for a total of 2,296 since the EV went on sale. In that same segment, Rivian is estimated to have sold 1,400 trucks so far this year. Tesla has yet to sell a single Cybertruck, despite all their braggadocio at its introduction all those years ago.
And, for those who enjoy small(er) pickup trucks, know that the Maverick is outselling the Ranger so far this year: 38,753 to 33,840. Think there’s any cannibalization there? Drop a note in the comments with your thoughts on that particular statistic.