US auto sales in 2019 were down 1.4% to 1.6% compared to 2018. That was before COVID-19 hit the United States and destroyed the US auto industry (among other things) for several months. So, when looking at 2021 US auto sales, I find it more interesting to compare to 2019 than 2020. Nonetheless, in this article, I’m comparing the numbers for all three years, so scroll down below for all of the number fun.
First things first, as the headline shows, US auto sales declined by more than 2 million units in 2021 compared to 2019. Compared to 2020, sales were up by more than 420,000.
In percentage terms, 2021 sales were up 3% over 2020 sales, while those same 2021 sales were down 12% compared to 2019 auto sales.
Digging into the changes at different auto brands, Tesla sales (estimates based on Troy Teslike’s data) were up 77% in 2021 compared to 2020 and up 93% compared to 2019, by far leading the pack. Several other brands were up in 2021 compared to 2020, most notably Porsche (22%), BMW (21%), Kia (20%), Hyundai (19%), Mitsubishi (17%), Acura (15%), and Volkswagen (15%). Despite the overall auto industry sales increase, some brands still saw large sales declines in 2021 compared to 2020. Fiat sales dropped 45%, Infiniti sales dropped 26%, Dodge sales dropped 19%, Lincoln sales dropped 18%, and Chevrolet sales dropped 17%, for example.
Fewer auto brands saw sales increases in 2021 compared to 2019 (as one would suspect looking at the broader sales changes). Aside from the aforementioned Tesla (93% sales increase), the biggest increases came from Kia (14%), Porsche (14%), Volvo (13%), Hyundai (7%), Volkswagen (3%), and Lexus (2%). Oh, that was it for the sales increases, unless you count Acura, which increased by slightly more than 0% (or 23 units). Most auto brands saw their sales decrease, but the big three in this regard were Fiat (-74%), Infiniti (-50%), and Dodge (-49%).
Looking at volume change rather than percentage change, Toyota led the increases in 2021 compared to 2020, followed by little old Tesla, Hyundai, Kia, and then several others. Sales declines were dominated by Chevrolet, and then most notable by Ford and Dodge.
Comparing 2021 to 2019, Tesla was #1 in volume sales increase, by more than double #2 Kia and more than triple #3 Hyundai. After those three brands, the sales increases really drop off. The sales decreases were much larger. Chevrolet lost more than half a million sales! Ford lost almost half a million sales! Nissan lost more than 300,000 sales and Dodge lost more than 200,000 sales. Those modest sales increases from Volvo, Volkswagen, Porsche, and Lexus look much better in that light.
Looking at how automakers ranked in terms of actual sales — not volume or percentage change in sales — below are three charts showing the total sales of auto brands in 2021, 2020, and 2019. Highlighting the one major pure electric vehicle brand, Tesla, it rose from 19th in 2019 to 17th in 2020 to 13th in 2021. Where will it land in 2022? 11th? 10th? 9th?
Any other thoughts on US auto sales in 2021 compared to 2019 and 2020?
Stay tuned for 1st quarter auto sales comparisons. They’ll be coming in a sales report later today.
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