By on May 3, 2020


Barring some health miracle and a financial windfall distributed evenly across the country’s populace, U.S. auto sales are in for a grim 2020. IHS Markit predicts a 26.7-percent slump for the year. April, which bore the full brunt of state-level lockdown measures, saw numerous automakers, perhaps all, return their worst monthly showing in years — or decades.

Amid all this dismal sales news and OEM financial bloodletting is a ray of hope for automakers and dealerships alike. States are opening up, and with declining COVID-19 cases in several major markets — and the approval of online sales in others — volume is on the upswing.

April was always expected to be a brutal month, with Edmunds and Cox Automotive (per CNBC) both forecasting a 53-percent sales drop for a month just ended. Data from automakers that still report on a monthly basis bear this out. Hyundai saw its April volume fall 39 percent, year over year, with Kia Motors on the hook for a 38.3-percent drop.

April was a month where the number of selling days and timing of holidays had little, if any, bearing on the final tally.

Subaru of America chalked up 46.6-percent fewer sales this April than last. At Mazda, the damage amounted to a 44-percent drop. With great understatement, Honda spoke of “difficult market conditions” as it announced a 54.1-percent drop. Toyota recorded a 53.9-percent sales slump, which was actually a higher tally than predicted.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado front quarter

Indeed, the cratering of the U.S. new vehicle market never achieved the depths predicted upon the pandemic’s arrival. The slow return of the New York City and Detroit-area markets, coupled with the approval of online sales in Michigan and Pennsylvania moved the needle in the week upward ending April 26th, J.D. Power data shows.

After dropping 74 percent below the firm’s pre-virus forecast at the end of March, sales in San Francisco were off by only 55 percent last week. Detroit has improved from essentially zero sales in early April (down 99 percent from pre-virus forecast) to 75 percent below last week. NYC’s percentage-below figure rose from 96 percent in the week ending March 29th to 71 percent in the week ending April 26th.

Country-wide, new vehicle sales were off pre-virus forecast by 39 percent — compared to the 59-percent-below figure seen at the end of March. That’s four weeks of sales growth. Some markets, like Dallas, have almost returned to normal. J.D. Power claims that all but one of the nation’s top 25 markets (Raleigh, NC) shows sales growth last week.

Still, buyers now emerging from their meticulously clean, bread-infused homes can’t do anything about volume already lost. From March 2nd to April 26th, the U.S. new vehicle market shed 782,000 units.

[Image: Hyundai, Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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8 Comments on “U.S. Auto Sales (Predictably) Tank in April As Recovery Ramps Up...”

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    Maybe a positive thing to come out of this-is just maybe you can buy a new car online- (in all parts of the country) with less effort than it currently takes before this COVID thing.

    Giving a price online (with ALL FEES INCLUDED) is the last many dealers want to do.

    OR-maye dealers will go back to their “old ways”……

    • 0 avatar

      You can get a price online now, but probably only with basic discounts included. Other discounts to dealers that can be passed on to buyers as part of a package are still separate, and you still have to bargain with the dealer for trade-in, car loan rollover, and new financing.

      Dealers won’t be out of business by a long shot. They’re still the guys with the cars, and still deal with licensing and registration so the buyer doesn’t have to – and the states like it that way. I wouldn’t rule out dealers finding other ways to pack on fees and other charges, while giving you a “break” on your trade-in or financing.

  • avatar

    I remember when you everyone here were laughing at AOC’s “Green New Deal”. DO you still think it is a fantasy? Congratulations comrades,it just happened: oil companies go bankrupt, car manufacturers too (they do not know yet) except of Tesla of course which stock is at record high. Airplanes are indefinitely grounded. Nobody drives, nobody flies. Putin is hiding in Kremlin.

    We all are on the government dole now. New deal, new normal. People are paid to sit at home and watch TV, while TV is watching you. He is there watching you. Someone is waiting just outside the door, to take you away.

    • 0 avatar

      Oh please, regale us with your conspiracy theories of how this has all been carefully orchestrated by sinister forces to enslave us all. In these troubled times, we could use a good laugh.

    • 0 avatar

      QAnon was right, All of this clean air, lack of traffic, and lack of smog is simply a government form of mind control.

      Unless we RISE UP and DEFEND our FREEDOM we have no recourse – our job-creators are our true liberators from not only popular vote elected officials but also soy boys, libtards, the MAINSTREAM MEDIA, George Soros, and Mitt Romneys.

      I know because I’m actually Qanons best friend.

    • 0 avatar

      Given the facts, you can only marvel at the insanity.

      According to Worldometer, almost 25,000 of the approximately 68,000 deaths in the U.S. attributed to the Wuhan coronavirus have occurred in New York state. If one adds the death counts of the two other states with suburbs of New York City — New Jersey and Connecticut — just about half of the U.S. deaths are accounted for.

      A great many of the remaining deaths occurred in nursing homes.

      For example, more than 40 percent of coronavirus-related deaths in Texas have been linked to nursing homes and assisted living centers. And in Minnesota, it has been reported that 80 percent of known COVID deaths take place in long-term care.

      If one factors out deaths in New York and the two states that surround New York City, and then factors out nursing home deaths using a 40 percent figure, the U.S. death count is in the neighborhood of 20,000.

      This pattern of coronavirus deaths has been obvious from the beginning. There was NEVER a reason to lockdown the economy and throw millions of people into poverty. If the nation had adopted a more targeted response we would fought the virus more effectively and not crushed our own economy in the process.

      Every model we relied upon and called “science” was wildly exaggerated and created the mass hysteria that drove our panicked response. Now, having gotten a taste of real power, some government officials are like pigs in sht

      • 0 avatar

        The nursing home deaths are a sickening scandal. The first outbreak was in Washington state, in a nursing home. That should have resulted in a nationwide lockdown of nursing homes.

        Instead, New York was putting Wuhan-positives in the nursing homes, assuming wrongly that they had the medical facilities for them. Nearly 4,000 of New York state’s death total were nursing home residents.

        A large percentage of Wuhan virus deaths were declared without evidence – New York City’s total suddenly increased by 3,600 – they were just added without ever being tested, to pad the total and get more federal aid.

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