By on April 4, 2022

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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52 Comments on “New Paradox: Sales Down in a Red-Hot Market...”


  • avatar
    EBFlex

    Part of this is by design. Automakers love selling vehicles ar MSRP vs $10K off. This also limits low-margin fleet sales too. Why sell to a fleet when you can sell to a retail buyer at MSRP?

    Some of the numbers make sense but others do not. Why is Ford allocating chips to build Edges and Lincoln MKEdges? Those should be going to vehicles like the boxy Escape, F150, and Ranger SUV….although they may be limiting that because of widespread quality issues with those models.

    • 0 avatar
      CKNSLS Sierra SLT

      EBFlex-
      “Part of this is by design”.

      That’s utter nonsense. This past Sunday I cruised down “Auto Dealer’s Row” near my hometown, Chevrolet, Hyundai, and Toyota all were devoid of any new cars.
      Plenty of people would like to buy a new vehicle-including myself, and I’m waiting for the supply and demand to correct itself-and I don’t believe I’m alone.

      The average new car payment the last quarter of 2021 was $630.00. This market isn’t sustainable.
      You obviously haven’t perused this quarters sales numbers yet either.

      When the repos start down the road-that will that be by design?

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        I’m not sure there will be a rash of repos. If they are selling fewer cars for more money they likely arent worried about getting the 540 FICO brigade into a new ride. There is the buy here pay here joint down the road or a 10 year old CPO Honda if your credit isn’t bottom of the barrel.

        • 0 avatar
          CKNSLS Sierra SLT

          Art Vandelay-
          Again-at the end of last quarter of LAST YEAR the average payment for a new vehicle was $630.00. If the economy goes in to a recession…….

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            The last time it went into a recession I and every single person I know kept right on paying their car payments. Again, if you aren’t a credit criminal you likely didn’t overextend yourself. With limited inventory they can be choosier with who they loan money to. They don’t need to get creative to finance someone with a beacon score starting with a 5…they can send them down the road to a place with weekly payments.

      • 0 avatar
        EBFlex

        “You obviously haven’t perused this quarters sales numbers yet either.”

        I’ve looked at them all.

        And you can purchase new vehicles. They are out there. Lots are not full like they used to be but you can get them. I drive by dealers all the time and they all have inventory.

        In 2021, Ford made 10 billion dollars on sales that were down 7% from 2020 numbers. So yes, I will continue to assert that some of this is by design. Automakers may cry poor in the media or when a Canadian dictator needs a talking point, but behind closed doors they really don’t mind.

        • 0 avatar
          CKNSLS Sierra SLT

          EBFlex-
          Yes-you can purchase new vehicles if you wish to pay over MSRP and what ever additional “add ons” the dealer feels like charging for that day. It (in part) may or may not be by “design” but the escalating of transaction prices are not sustainable long term. The truck forums for one-are ripe with “I would like a new truck but I’m not paying $75,000.00 for a new half-ton truck. So we will see once availability becomes wide-spread-if these transaction prices will stay at the expense of higher volume.

          • 0 avatar
            EBFlex

            There are plenty of dealers that will sell at MSRP or even invoice. And yes there are those that won’t buy if the price is too high for them. But there are five others that will. Good for the dealers for taking advantage of the situation and making some money.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            They exist to make money. Not to ensure everyone can afford a new car. Honda has 10 year CPOs if you are of more limited means and some places will let you pay weekly. Typically these are non issues to theys with a history of paying their bills.

          • 0 avatar
            CKNSLS Sierra SLT

            EBFLex-
            What dealer or dealer support company do you work for? I must have missed it.

          • 0 avatar
            EBFlex

            “ EBFLex-
            What dealer or dealer support company do you work for? I must have missed it.”

            I don’t. Why do you assume I do?

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Because some people assume that it is still 1974 and they don’t have a computer in their pocket where they can search nationwide in minutes.

            Now you aren’t getting a pile of cash on the hood like 5 years ago. I don’t know what to say though other than sometimes prices go up.

        • 0 avatar
          deanst

          So all the major car manufacturers in the world got together and decided to limit production to increase profit per vehicle? I wonder why they didn’t think of this great strategy sooner?

          Got to admit Ford selling incomplete cars does a good job of hiding this strategy. Genius!

          • 0 avatar
            EBFlex


            So all the major car manufacturers in the world got together and decided to limit production to increase profit per vehicle? I wonder why they didn’t think of this great strategy sooner?

            Got to admit Ford selling incomplete cars does a good job of hiding this strategy. Genius!”

            You realize nobody asserted that right?

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      “Why sell to a fleet when you can sell to a retail buyer at MSRP?”

      Retail buyers don’t typically buy white, long box, regular cab pickups with a vinyl bench seat.

      • 0 avatar
        EBFlex

        “Retail buyers don’t typically buy white, long box, regular cab pickups with a vinyl bench seat.”

        What a deep thought. Truly astounding.

        You completely missed the point (my guess is it was intentional), but please provide us with more of your profound automotive knowledge.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @EBFlex – “Why sell to a fleet when you can sell to a retail buyer at MSRP?”

          You were implying that companies will prefer to sell to “retail” or personal use customers due to higher profit margins.

          I’m pointing out that fleet buyers are often purchasing different vehicles than that of a typical personal use buyer.

          Ignore mode back on!

          • 0 avatar
            EBFlex

            “ I’m pointing out that fleet buyers are often purchasing different vehicles than that of a typical personal use buyer.

            Ignore mode back on!”

            Yes, therefore, manufacturers won’t make low margin fleet models. It’s really not that hard.

            Anyway I won’t keep you from ignoring the truth.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff S

        @Lou–The manufacturers with a chip shortage are putting more production into the more profitable vehicles so white long box pickups fleet specked will get lower priority. Dealers might still take orders for the fleet vehicles but the customer might have to wait a year or more. I now have experience on ordering and waiting for a new vehicle and have been on many of the car forums. There are Bronco buyers who have ordered in 2020 and still haven’t gotten or know when they are getting their new Bronco. It will be 9 months from the time I ordered my Maverick to when I take delivery of it.

        • 0 avatar
          EBFlex

          Thank you Jeff for understanding this very simple concept. But a minor correction:

          Manufacturers are tightly regulated as to when they can build a specific model year vehicle. As a result, manufacturers are forced to cancel orders if they cannot get a specific model year vehicle built by December 31st of that year. For instance they cannot build a 22 year vehicle on Jan 1 2023.

          And guess what models get cancelled? Low margin fleet sales. Dodge has recently cancelled tens of thousands of Durango orders and a few years ago, they cancelled tens of thousands of Charger orders.

          That speaks directly to your “fleet vehicles get a low priority” statement. They move to the end to make room to build higher profit retail models. Then if they run out of time, oh well it’s just low margin fleet sales that get cut.

          • 0 avatar
            Jeff S

            @EB Flex–True but each model has a separated cutoff date. For instance the Maverick’s final production date for the 2022 MY is the end of August and the order date for the 2023 MY starts on August 16. Ford has already stated that those 2022 Maverick orders not scheduled before the end of August will be rolled over to the 2023 MY. My Maverick was made on March 11. Ford schedules all production 7 weeks in advance. I don’t know what the other manufactures do but I doubt its too much different. Listening to Tim Bartz’s podcasts gives me a new insight to how production is scheduled and some of the issues that arose during the shortages. Usually as in the case if a vehicle doesn’t get made for the model year it gets rolled into the next model year. Manufacturers don’t cancel an order but it can get delayed.

          • 0 avatar
            EBFlex

            “ EB Flex–True but each model has a separated cutoff date. For instance the Maverick’s final production date for the 2022 MY is the end of August and the order date for the 2023 MY starts on August 16. Ford has already stated that those 2022 Maverick orders not scheduled before the end of August will be rolled over to the 2023 MY. ”

            Yes. A manufacturer could just push previous model year buyers into the next model year. I’m not sure why some do and some don’t.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @Jeff S – I’m seeing new fleet pickups roll through dealership lots routinely in my town. Companies buying 100 pickups at a time are going to get their orders filled. Parts and service offset lower sales margins. Residual values on fleet trucks tend to be very low therefore don’t affect used prices.
          Car rental companies are a different story. Car companies hate selling to them since those vehicles are low profit and since resale is good undermine residual values across the used market.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Fleet (rental) may soon become very profitable for the automakers as rental companies will pay premiums to get bumped to the front of the line (they’ll just pass the higher costs to their customers,tho higher used prices will also mitigate the cost for rental companies).

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff S

        It has to be a really large order to get priority and the way it has been explained on many of the forums is it depends on what trim and accessories are being made at a given week. Tim Bartz, Internet Sales Manager at Long McArthur Ford in Salinas,KS has weekly podcasts covering weekly scheduled production and answering viewers questions. Less about paying a premium and more about what components are being scheduled for delivery at a particular plant at any given week. A hybrid Maverick might be limited to 20% of the production for 1 week and the following week it could be 50%. A large enough order as the rental fleet might be scheduled for a week where more similarly equipped vehicles will be made. Certain features are now limited by chip shortages such as lane departure and adaptable cruise and if there is a shortage they could delay the manufacture of that vehicle. If the vehicle has not been scheduled for production then by removing those features it could be scheduled sooner.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          Car companies are prioritizing higher profit units but they also will prioritize high volume sales items. That high volume will offset lower margins. Fleets aren’t going to be able to buy at previous bargain basement prices.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    FIAT down 60%. They sell only one vehicle, in the $25-30k range, where virtually any other choice you can make will give you a better vehicle.

    The fact that 340 people chose to buy one speaks volumes about the times we’re living in.

    Countdown until Stellantis gives the axe to FIAT USA in 3… 2… 1

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I predicted Fiat’s exit a couple years ago, but they keep hanging on.

      At the moment, cars.com shows 155 new Fiats for sale in the US. Oddly, one of them is a *2012* 500 in a very fetching green color with tan/white leather interior. Only 22 2022’s are in stock.

      The end is nigh. But I suspect Stellantis is trying to starve out the dealers until they quit the Fiat brand in disgust.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick_515

        I don’t what Fiat is still hanging on to.

        That said, I was super bummed a few months back when I missed a crazy low miles, manual 1.4T 500L for six grand. Would have been the perfect car for the dog park.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    With all the supply issues, it’s really hard to tell from this what’s selling and what isn’t per se, but take a look at Mitsubishi, Hyundai and Kia, three brands known for selling on value and price.

    Interesting, isn’t it?

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Except that (according to Edmunds), both Hyundai and Kia had a higher ATP than Honda for January.

      Kias, on avg., sold for around $2,300 higher than MSRP (tops among mainstream brands and even higher than the spread for Porsche).

      In contrast, Nissans, on avg., sold for around $900 more than MSRP, and Mitsu was $200 more.

      There were still a # of brands which sold for under MSRP.

      Alfa Romeo was not surprising, and maybe not Lincoln or Mini, but BMW was also under MSRP.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Lol…imagine paying over sticker for a Hyundai.

        • 0 avatar

          Palisade and Telluride are driving those numbers. Local dealers will sell most of the h and k sedans at MSRP (maybe below) but all the SUVS have some markup and the Pallisade and Telluride they want 5k over.

          • 0 avatar
            Astigmatism

            It wouldn’t really show up in meaningful numbers yet, but Kia dealers have been asking for $5+ over MSRP – in some cases as much as $20k over MSRP – for EV6s available on the lot. I bought mine at MSRP only because I’d pre-ordered it (though I sure as heck wouldn’t have paid thousands over MSRP for it).

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        Kia tends to sell vehicles at the lower end of the price spectrum. The Kia dealer my son works at has benefited greatly from high used car prices. People who would normally buy used are buying new Kia’s because the price is competitive with the used market.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “endless ‘market adjustments’ and the associated clapbacks from manufacturers to some dealers who may be seen as taking advantage of the situation”

    Based on my recent car shopping experience, I’m suspicious that those mfr warnings are mostly lipservice designed to make consumers *think* the mfr is looking out for them, while winking at the dealers as the memo is sent.

    Consumers are beginning to figure out that the dealer and the manufacturer are not the same entity, and the direct sales/delivery model is becoming more popular by the day. At the same time, mfrs are looking for ways to cut costs, and the dealers will eventually be squeezed out:

    https://insideevs.com/news/577764/nissa-ariya-dealer-margin-cuts-possible/

  • avatar
    JMII

    I saw a Polestar 2 this AM in traffic, first I’ve seen in person.

    If a local Hyundai dealer would sell me a Santa Cruz at MSRP I’d have one by now. But they are still asking $2-5k over and I’m not paying that.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Im not sure that I believe interest is still the same from last several months.With inflation and fuel prices I’m just holding out.And so are alot of my friends.
    If and when I start talking to dealers once the upcoming recession starts, if MSRP isn’t an option I’ll target a less expensive car or used car. As long as you’re not looking for a Porsche , any SUV/truck, there are some segments that depreciation has been closer to normal-used luxury sedans for example.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      There are plenty of great used deals out there. Sure you have to go back a few more years than you may like but there are some really reliable cars out there for less than $7-$8K with very low miles.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Rolls-Royce seems to be doing fine. Which is encouraging.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    Art-
    this ones’ for you-
    https://www.titleloanser.com/stats/car-repossession-statistics/
    According to the chief economist at Cox Automotive, Tom Webb, Americans are increasingly losing their creditworthiness due to unsustainable automobile debt acquisition. The concerned economist thinks that if Americans do not get their lending behavior in order, the repossession rates will only go higher. As things stand, over 100,000 more cars were repossessed in 2017 than in 2016. In fact, 2017 repossessions totaled 1.8 million units. 2018’s Manheim Used Car Market Report suggests that matters are about to get much worse.

    According to the Washington Post, over 6.3 million folks in the country face losing their automobiles. It
    2021-2022 most repossessed car and truck (in order)
    Ford F-150 – is the most repossessed truck
    Chevy Silverado – is 2nd the most repossessed truck
    Honda Civic – is the most repossessed car
    Honda Accord – is 2nd the most repossessed car
    Toyota Camry
    Nissan Altima
    Toyota Corolla
    Honda CR-V
    Dodge Ram
    Clearly-these are not “third rate” borrowers-buying pickups.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Nonsense. They will, or would happily overextend buyers with no financial sense Enter the 84 and 96 month car loan Taylor made for the stupid.

      And if that does materialize then good…should help with used prices.

      But I maintain if you are buying a car today, you are probably better off than those buyers.

      The credit criminals are typically roll a bunch of negative equity from their last not so smart purchase into a new car. When the price is over MSRP and their are no rebates it is more difficult for the finance guy to get creative with those folks.

      Either way, you probably shouldn’t buy a car based on a “best case” earning scenario. This isn’t really my problem either way.

    • 0 avatar
      tomLU86

      Re: Washington Post say 6.3 million face losing automobiles. That’s out of what, 130, 140, 150 million drivers? 4%.

      What percent of the full-size truck owners default?

      What happens to repossessed cars? The creditors auction them, and for some, that means a bargain vehicle (and for others, it means a used car that may have been abused, not maintained, in an accident, or on the way to lemonhood).

      Car prices, new and used will be higher going forward. For many, and varied reasons.

      The net effect will be like the mid to late 70s. Before the mid-70s, one could buy a new car for under $3000. Starting in the early 70s, the size of that car started to shrink. By 1980, there were no new cars for under $4,000. Around 1984, prices leveled off. They were much higher–and cars were markedly better. But the price increase vastly exceeded the degree of improvement (radials, more fuei-injection, 4-speed automatics, no more 3-speed manuals)

      This is the new normal. We had a good run. And in our case, cars/trucks will NOT get better–they will have more useless features pretending to be better–and lets not forget the “impaired driving” controls coming.

      • 0 avatar
        CKNSLS Sierra SLT

        tomLU86-
        Had a friend sell a 2016 fully loaded Ford Explorer XLT to Carmax for $16,000.00 w/almost 100,000 miles on it.

        I just looked at the available Explorers and they are asking $27,998.00 for the one she sold.

        Strange times indeed.

  • avatar
    AK

    I got an absolutely fantastic deal on a car I ordered in December and picked up in March. If I can find a legit deal on a hot new car, anyone can.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      Exactly. It’s not hard.

      They make it sound like every dealer is adding markups when in reality it’s a minority.

    • 0 avatar

      Here in CT I had only seen one markup on a new vehicle in my life before July last year (on a SRT4 Neon of all thing). Since July it has become very common. Still most dealers have something without markup and you might have to travel a bit further, but for the most part I think you can get something close to what you want for MSRP.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    The reason for the push on the Maverick is that it takes a month or more to ship from the factory in Mexico. Ford is expecting the last dealer deliveries for Maverick MY 2022 to be in October. Sometime in September for the start of 2023 Maverick production. Ford is trying to catch up from plant shutdowns mostly due to part shortages.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    You guys do grasp that the S in MSRP stands for SUGGESTED, right?

    If you don’t like it I suggest you buy somewhere else.

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