Light Vehicle Sales Drop in Second Quarter of 2022

Americans continue to buy vehicles nearly as fast as they arrive on dealer lots, as the nation is rife with stories chronicling perpetually empty lots and some establishments making bank with obscene markups.

We’ll leave those latter two topics for another day. Meanwhile, despite a consumer hunger for new cars, the market is down sharply compared to this time last year – double-digit percentages, in fact.

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New Paradox: 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.

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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.

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Sales Stats: America's Automakers Weather a Stormy 2021

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.

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COVID-19 Fallout: U.S. Auto Sales Crater in Q1

Surprising exactly no one, sales numbers for the automotive industry in this country are grim. With stay-at-home edicts being encouraged in most states and various social distancing measures in place to help temper the spread of COVID-19, it’s understandable that a limited numbers of customers are darkening the doors of the few showrooms that remain open.

The first two months of this year were reasonably robust, so the negative numbers can almost entirely be chalked up to March’s challenging conditions (to put it mildly). As a programming note, the brands of Volvo, Jaguar Land Rover, and Mercedes-Benz won’t we releasing their numbers until later in the month. This explains the holes in our chart.

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Always Be Closing: U.S. Vehicle Sales Top 17 Million in 2019

Many talking heads and auto journos, your author included, theorized the American car market in 2019 would fail to sell in excess of 17 million new vehicles for the first time in several years. However, thanks to a late-year push, a total of 17.11 million copies of fresh metal moved off showroom floors and onto America’s highways.

If you’re keeping count, and many are, this makes for the fifth consecutive year the industry topped the 17 million mark. The only other two calendar years it did so was 2000 and 2001. We can draw these conclusions now that Ford has gotten off its Blue Oval butt and posted its numbers, a full 48 hours after just about everyone else.

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August 2019 U.S. Auto Sales: An Incomplete Puzzle

Reporting on American auto sales without including the Detroit Three is like talking about great racing drivers without mentioning the names Schumacher, Petty, or Senna. Nevertheless, here we are. Thanks to Detroit’s decision to release sales data only on a quarterly basis, a big chunk of the picture is missing. Even the big guns at Automotive News have given up trying to estimate Detroit numbers in an effort to fill in the blanks.

Everyone else is still playing fair ball, though, so let’s examine how the rest of America’s automakers fared last month.

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  • Ronnie Schreiber From where is all that electricity needed to power an EV transportation system going to come? Ironically, the only EV evangelist that I know of who even mentions the fragile nature of our electrical grid is Elon Musk. None of the politicians pushing EVs go anywhere near it, well, unless they are advocating for unreliable renewables like wind and solar.
  • FreedMike I just don’t see the market here - I think about 1.2% of Jeep drivers are going to be sold on the fuel cost savings here. And the fuel cost savings are pretty minimal, per the EPA: https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/PowerSearch.do?action=noform&path=1&year1=2022&year2=2022&make=Jeep&baseModel=Wrangler&srchtyp=ymm&pageno=1&rowLimit=50Annual fuel costs for this vehicle are $2200 and $2750 for the equivalent base turbo-four model. I don’t get it.
  • FreedMike How about the “Aztek” package? Wait, this car already has that…Said it before and I’ll say it again: they need to restyle the hind end on this car, stat.
  • Johnster "Vale" is the [s]cheap[/s] lower-priced performance version with black trim and stiff suspension."Mist" is the "DeLuxe" version with a bit more chrome and trim. (Sort of like the "Decor Package" option.)"Magentic" is the full-on Brougham treatment (in its current state) with more chrome trim than the "Mist" and all sorts of gimmicky electronic features inside. (Sadly, it will not include simulated landau irons or a vinyl covered roof, even as an option.)"Aurora" is the Oldsmobile of Cadillacs (sort of like the old Cadillac Calais). No, that's not right. It's the top-of-the-line model, sort of a "Grand Touring" version, with not as much chrome as the "Magentic" but all of the gimmicky electronic features and a stiffer suspension.
  • Drew8MR Why can't CARB leave hobbyists alone? Maybe lay off the low hanging fruit and go after the gross polluters. Bring back the rolling exemption.