The US auto industry has had a tough year. Sales are down notably despite the fact that the country is creeping gradually out of the COVID crisis. In the 3rd quarter, US auto sales were down 13% compared to the 3rd quarter of 2020 and were down 22% compared to the 3rd quarter of 2019. Given the disruption caused by the shutdowns and then the semi rebound last year, the much more notable comparison in my mind is Q3 2021 compared to Q3 2019. Nonetheless, both are noteworthy and intriguing.
Interestingly, as you may have gathered by now, Tesla bucked the trend. Tesla sales in the US were up 67% compared to the 3rd quarter of 2020 and were up 104% compared to the 3rd quarter of 2019.
Tesla wasn’t the only company that had its US sales go up, but it was one of few, and it was far above the others. Here are the changes from Q3 2020 to Q3 2021:
As you can see, BMW, Lexus, and Kia had sales go up 9%, 8%, and 7%, respectively. Hyundai and Volvo were up 4% each.
In terms of volume, Tesla was up by nearly 40,000 sales. (Also, note that these sales are actually deliveries, note sales, and timetables for deliveries have been getting pushed off more and more due to high demand and limited supply. A Model Y ordered today has an estimated delivery month of April 2022). Kia was up 12,000, Hyundai nearly 8,000, and BMW and Lexus about 6,000 each. If you actually add up the sales increases of every automaker that was up rather than down, the surprising thing is they didn’t even total the estimated Tesla sales increase.
Meanwhile … a lot of automakers were very down and very, very down year over year. On a volume basis, Chevrolet and Ford (down 162,392 and 140,437, respectively) suffered the brunt of the pain. On a percentage basis, Fiat and Chrysler (sister companies) had the biggest drops (down 64% and 51%, respectively). But there’s a long list of companies that were in the red.
What about Q3 2021 compared to Q3 2019?
The results are more extreme in this comparison. Tesla is up 104% in Q3 2021 compared to Q3 2019, Volvo is up 16%, Kia 12%, Lexus 10%, Porsche 9%, Alfa Romeo 5%, and Hyundai 3%. Every other automaker was down, with the most extreme losses on a percentage basis going to Fiat again (-83%), Infiniti (-57%), Dodge (-53%), Chrysler (-48%), Cadillac (-44%), and Chevrolet (-43%).
Ending with an overall look, the kind of data many headlines focus on is captured in the following two charts:
As you can see, the overall US auto market was down 13% in Q3 2021 versus Q3 2020, and down 22% compared to Q3 2019. Of course, what is lost in those charts is that some auto brands were up significantly despite the overall market being down significantly — with Tesla standing out in that regard.
Check out last quarter’s report as well for deeper historical perspective: “US Auto Sales: Tesla Had Highest % Increase From Q2 2019 To Q2 2021, 5th Highest Volume Increase.”
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