April 2021 U.S. auto sales recover from 2020 decline, but chip shortages loom.
Beginning in March 2020, the U.S. and much of the world began a historic lockdown. This included stay-at-home orders, closed shops and businesses, and essentially brought the economy to a halt. Taking a big hit in all that were auto sales as consumers cautiously avoided showrooms while wondering exactly what the pandemic entailed.
Fast forward a year and the U.S. is crawling out of a hole, with most states relaxing restrictions and consumers in a buying mood. Helping matters are a slew of government-backed incentives, including direct cash to taxpayers. Pent-up demand is here and the automakers are benefitting with most seeing sales more than double and a few breaking records.
April 2021 Sales Highlights
A survey of the automakers revealed the following about their April 2021 U.S. sales:
Hyundai reported an all-time sales month gain of 128 percent on sales of 77,523 units, also its best-ever month. The automaker saw sales top 10,000 units for five models, led by the all-new Tucson compact crossover. Other big sellers were the Elantra and Sonata sedans, and a pair of crossovers, the Santa Fe and Kona. Sales of the flagship Palisade also rose by 150 percent.
Volvo recorded its best month ever on the strength of 11,036 units sold. The Swedish automaker witnessed sales rising by 185.5 percent over April 2020, with 89 percent of its sales snagged by its SUVs. Indeed, the XC60 and XC40 led the way with sales up 242.8 percent and 190.8 percent, respectively.
Subaru, which saw its historic multi-year month-over-month sales surge end because of the pandemic, returned to form in April as sales doubled. The Forester led the pack, selling a record 19,452 units for the month. The Outback and Crosstrek were the two other big gainers among its crossover models, while the WRX/STI performance sedan sales nearly doubled for April.
Mazda sales soared by a whopping 184.4 percent in April on the strength of the best month ever for the CX-5 and CX-9 crossovers. The CX-30 achieved its second-best month ever.
Incomplete April 2021 Data
Not all manufacturers are reporting monthly sales. Indeed, the three major U.S. automakers – GM, Ford, and Stellantis (Chrysler) — issue quarterly reports. That said, all three claimed a banner month. However, a global chip shortage has slowed or temporarily halted the manufacturer of certain vehicles, including the Ford F-150.
American Honda reported a 171 percent increase for the month, with the Honda brand climbing 165.7 percent. Acura sales rose 226.2 percent. Sales of the CR-V crossover topped 40,000 units, while Accord and Civic sales came in at 21,035 and 28,414 units, respectively.
As for Acura, the MDX led the way with 7,685 units sold, up 345.5 percent over April 2020. Sales of the RDX also rose substantially, surging by 160 percent for the month. American Honda also pulls out sales of its electrified vehicles, with those climbing by 458 percent for the month.
Toyota sales reached 239,311 units, up 183 percent for the month. Toyota brand sales rose by 183 percent, while Lexus sales climbed 177 percent. The automaker also pulls out electrified vehicle sales, recording a 526 percent increase for the month.
COVID Lockdown, Chip Shortage
Not all manufacturers have reported, but the trend is obvious: sales have returned to normal, at least for another month.
But a dark specter hangs over the auto industry, one that will adversely impact sales moving forward, at least for this year. Specifically, a chip shortage, driven by high demand, a Renesas Electronics Corporation plant fire, and the Texas freeze looms large. Also, a tech battle between the U.S. and China, and COVID-related closures have conspired to reduce supplies. This has occurred as the demand for semiconductor chips is pushing ever higher resulting in plant shutdowns until supplies normalize.
As a result, the second quarter may see sales plunge for several manufacturers as assembly lines grind to a halt. If so, we could a roller-coaster year with supply, demand, prices, and consumer sentiment all over the place.