Sales Down in a Red-Hot Market


Delivery numbers for the first quarter of 2022 may be down compared to this same time last year, but don’t construe that as a lack of customer interest. Supply and demand are out of sync for many manufacturers right now, leading to a situation in which there seems to be no shortage of buyers but a dearth of inventory to satiate their requests.

Alert readers will recognize there are a number of holes in this chart, a situation one can blame on OEMs refusing to release sales numbers in a timely manner at the end of a quarter. This is in addition to scuttling the practice of monthly reporting, it should be noted. Companies like Ford, a trio of Germans, and Volvo will post their numbers sometime later this month. At that time, we will update this chart. Or not. Tesla did release their numbers for global production and deliveries, but it’ll be another three weeks until market specifics are given.

Still, there’s plenty to talk about. Toyota has once again bested General Motors for the top spot in America by these measures, outselling the Detroit behemoth by about 5,500 cars despite a near 15-percent drop in sales year-over-year. Given the tumbleweeds at your author’s local Toyota dealer, one can only speculate how many they would have sold if not for global supply chain issues. GM was off by about 20 percent with a notable blip at Buick.

It’s endless fun to poke through the weird minutiae of sales numbers, including revelations such as the fact that Stellantis apparently managed to move a pair of Chrysler 200 sedans in the first quarter of 2022 despite it being a model which ceased production in December 2016. Someone unearthed a Dodge Dart as well.

The addition of automakers to our chart is a trip since the creation of new marques in this market hasn’t happened en masse for decades. Rivian, Polestar, and Lucid all shipped vehicles in the first quarter of this calendar year, with sales estimates aggregated from the eggheads at Automotive News.

No one should construe these difficult numbers with a lack of American desire to buy new vehicles. Most dealerships are selling rigs the minute they land, with many hot models pre-sold long before they ever turn a wheel on the dealer’s lot. This has given rise to endless ‘market adjustments’ and the associated clapbacks from manufacturers to some dealers who may be seen as taking advantage of the situation.

This may be one of the few times in recent memory that the pace of production is roughly equal to the pace of sales. Even if supply chains get back to normal and build rates improve, pent-up demand will hoover any extra vehicles being pumped out of car factories.

[Image: Toyota / Charts: TTAC]

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