Notes From 2021: A Weird Year for American Auto Sales

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
notes from 2021 a weird year for american auto sales

It’s been a tough 12 months for a lot of people, including some dealer principals and their staff in the front office. Sure, more than a few of them are making bank by charging outrageous markups on the vehicles they do have on the ground but, by and large, overall sales numbers were all over the board for the majority of brands.

We’ve parsed through a few of the stats and unearthed a few notable gems, including how Dodge somehow managed to sell more Darts in 2021 than 2020 – despite it having ended production in September 2016.

It’s unclear whether these Darts are zombified units that have been prowling through American dealerships, looking for revenge over their botched launch in 2012, or if they were buried out behind the wash bay and only unearthed after an intensive round of building renovations. But here they are, with 10 new Dodge Darts being recorded as sold in 2021 (7 were sold in 2020). A true statistician would breathlessly note that’s a 43 percent increase in Dart sales, proving there are only three falsehoods in this world – lies, damn lies, and statistics.

Other weirdness? Jeep claims they sold 16 Patriots (a 433 percent increase over 2020 for all you stats nerds), a vehicle discontinued in December 2016 with leftover stock rebranded as ‘17s. Same goes for the 15 Chrysler 200s that apparently found homes. It could be a case of new owners Stellantis taking this opportunity to clean up the books, placing items in the column in which they belong, or it is possible that one or two of these rigs were pressed into service in some dealer capacity but not officially registered or given an in-service date until now. Whatever. Still makes for interesting reading.

Clear-eyed individuals have noted the Challenger (54,314) has outsold the Mustang (52,414) over the last twelve months, proving that just because something is old doesn’t mean you throw it away. The vast number of special editions thrown at the Challenger by Dodge surely helps, as does various psychotic amounts of horsepower. If you’re wondering, Ford claims they sold a total of 27,140 Mustang Mach-E vehicles, meaning it found more homes than any of the individual Lincoln models (Nautilus/MKX won that award with 24,443 sales).

Another interesting stat is the combined might of Hyundai and Kia totted up more sales than Honda. Since those two brands (plus Genesis) are technically all under the same corporate umbrella, it is not incorrect to say Hyundai Motor Co. outsold Honda Motor Co. in the American market last year. Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis reportedly accounted for a combined 1,489,118 sales (738,081, 49,621, and 701,416) compared to Honda and Acura’s tally of 1,466,630 (the sum of 1,309,222 and 157,408).

Toyota and Lexus combined to topple GM from its #1 perch (2,332,261 vs 2,202,598), a development we’ve covered already. We’re trying to imagine what would have happened to a person who would have predicted such an event had they done so while standing in Gilley’s or any other roadside bar in America back in the 1980s. How times change.

[Image: FCA/Stellantis]

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4 of 29 comments
  • Kwik_Shift If I'm in that situation of being in an unfamiliar area looking for an address/parking, I'll put on my hazards. If you want to pass, then pass. Otherwise you have warning.
  • Tassos Strictly a collectible, nota daily driver. Way too old. Even the Awesome S class from 1991-99 is getting to old to be a daily driver these days.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird The small van segment is quite popular in Europe. Many business owners and crafts people buy the Transit, the Renault Kangoo or Peugeot Partner since it fits their needs and can navigate the narrow streets. They should have done better here for folks whose Ranger or S-10 with a cap is getting old.
  • Kwik_Shift So well-used ones can be overpriced.
  • Cprescott Ford killed the TRANSit because it identified itself as a station wagon.