By on January 5, 2022

Tacoma Trail Edition. Toyota

To say that headline is an understatement is akin to saying Vesuvius barely covered Pompeii. The last calendar year saw plenty of struggles for those trying to move metal, many of which resulted in empty dealer lots bereft of product to actually sell. A colleague in the industry told this author he had an up who strolled into his showroom loudly declaring “I’m looking for a ’22 Suburban,” to which my friend replied “Me too, buddy.”

Yeah, it was that kind of year.

Given the lackadaisical approach to sales reporting these days (the era of monthly reports is over and the age of getting an update every 10 days is long gone) we must wait for the end of a quarter in order to receive comprehensive numbers from most automakers. This clicks in with year-end of course, permitting us to run this Excel table which hasn’t graced these digital pages in far too long. A few figures are still trickling in, so please ignore any gaps in the data.

Most OEMs skidded like bald tires on Michigan ice in the final quarter of 2021, unsurprising given the dearth of new product thanks to supply chain hiccups and what can be charitably described as a lack of semiconductor chips. Given this, we’d hesitate to read too much into the off-a-cliff 43.1 percent tumble at GM or the 21.5 percent freefall at Honda, though it’s worth noting the corporate twins of Hyundai and Kia seemed to weather the rough seas better than most.

More telling are the year-end figures, especially since the industry seems to be roughly flat compared to 2020 (barring any major surprises from VW, who’s yet to report as of this writing). The aforementioned Hyundai and Kia grew last year, along with Honda and Nissan to name just a few. Again, given the shutdowns of 2020, it’s tough to justify making sweeping statements based on these numbers alone. It’s been a weird couple of years.

Many outlets (including this one) have prattled at length about Toyota besting General Motors on its home turf, outselling them by 129,663 units throughout the whole of 2021. That’s a big deal, especially since GM has had a lock on the #1 spot for, well, just about ever. Globally, the Toyota crew (and VW) have climbed over The General to sit atop the totem pole but to perform that same feat in the American market is more than a simple footnote.

Do you know someone who bought a new vehicle in 2021? Did you? Sound off with your experiences in the comments below.

[Image: Toyota]

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21 Comments on “Sales Stats: America’s Automakers Weather a Stormy 2021...”

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    No but I am getting my new hybrid Maverick in the Spring (have a build date the week of Feb 14).

    • 0 avatar


      But, now is the time to have your local Ford mechanic over and go over how you want your Escape pickup serviced, etc. Set some parameters, maybe meet his family. You two are going to become very close.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’m surprised so many brands were up, but maybe that wasn’t hard to do compared to 2020.

    Most of GM’s beating happened at Chevy – shame on them.

    FWIW, Fiat has 0 2022’s in stock nationwide, and a 27-day inventory of new cars on the lot. No dealer markups, either! They just won’t die, but maybe this year will be it.

  • avatar

    I tired to buy a Santa Cruz before 2021 ended but they disappear off lots as soon as they arrive – often going for over MSRP and I refuse to pay any ADM.

    Per a Forbes report H/K didn’t cancel their chip orders when sales dropped last year, so they were in a better recovery position then others.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Santa Cruz inventories seem a bit calmer now. I’ve (virtually) saved a few that remain unsold for a couple weeks now, and the ADMs are going away.

      But I won’t be buying anything as long as the old Sedona keeps running without drama, but it’s close to 90 in dog years.

      • 0 avatar

        Running the same situation, the 08 Sedona is closing in on 150k and still running fine, but is beginning to get a bit threadbare.

        Hold-up is that my intended replacement is going to be a Pacifica Hybrid. And have you seen what used ones are selling for?

  • avatar

    Industry leading analysts also said Toyota lead would be short lived once has parts on hand.

    But sales are one thing and profit margins are another. Especially when it comes to selling one-million trucks at an average price of +$50,000 with close to 50% prifit margins.

    • 0 avatar
      CKNSLS Sierra SLT

      The reported profit (PRE-TAX) on a GM pickup is an average of $17,000.00 That includes the strippers and the Lux-o-truck. So it’s not a 50% margin. I know facts and reality sometimes stink.

      • 0 avatar

        Well that was 2018…

        Considering average new vehicle selling for over $40K you should probably revise those old numbers. Not many Silverado’s below $40K.

      • 0 avatar

        Possibly relevant (probably not, how hard could it really be to count beans, everyone who knows anything about anything automatically knows everything about the counting of the beans):

  • avatar

    No mention that Tesla outsold Lexus and is close to Mazda?

  • avatar

    “A colleague in the industry told this author he had an up who strolled into his showroom loudly declaring “I’m looking for a ’22 Suburban,” to which my friend replied “Me too, buddy.””

    When people call me ‘buddy’ I usually stab them in the eye.

  • avatar

    I won’t consider an EV until range is better than 350+ miles. I know that Tesla has the long range batteries but all of those cars are nearly 100 grand.

    It gets cold where I live and I do a 4 hour road trip once a month to visit family. Not into the whole stopping for an hour to recharge thing, especially if I have to wait in line with other yahoos

  • avatar

    In 2021 i sold my Armada for almost 10k more than i paid for it in 2019. Sitting things out for a bit and driving a very clean Prius i bought for one of my kids who turns 16 in Oct with the money I made back on the Armada…Not sure what I’ll get. As for purchases, I only know of 1….a relative had their Flex which they loved blow the motor via the hidden water pump design at 98k miles. They bought a 4runner at MSRP, no ADM and joined in on the class action suit.

    Happy new year to all.

  • avatar
    Michael S6

    The chip shortage had a very uneven effect on different companies. GM and Ford seem to have taken the brunt of the chip shortage and their respective luxury divisions taking a serious beating as well. If shortage does improve significantly in 2022, then Ford has an attractive product line. GM will probably continue its never ending downsizing with a somewhat mediocre product line.

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