U.S. auto sales fall in Q1 as chip shortage slows factories

GMC pick-up trucks are lined up at the point of sale at Albrecht Auto Group’s dealership, Tuesday, August 3, 2021, in Wakefield, Massachusetts. Sales of new vehicles in the United States were expected to decline by approximately 15% in the first quarter compared to a year ago, when the global shortage of computer chips continued to slow down factories amid strong consumer demand. General Motors reported on Friday that its sales fell by 20% for the quarter, while Toyota’s sales fell by 15%. Credit: AP Photo / Charles Krupa, File

Sales of new vehicles in the United States were expected to fall by approximately 15% in the first quarter compared to a year ago, as the global shortage of computer chips continued to slow down factories in high consumer demand.

General Motors reported on Friday that its sales fell by 20% for the quarter, while Toyota’s sales fell by 15%. Stellanti’s sales decreased by 14%, while Nissan was almost 30%. Honda reported a 23% decrease and Hyundai sales fell by only 4% from January to March.

Many automakers reporting sales cited the chip shortage, which began late last year and has continued to frustrate the industry, making it unable to meet strong consumer demand. Many expect improvement during the year, especially during the second half of the year.

“Improvements in the supply chain should boost car sales as the year progresses, despite headwinds from higher inflation and fuel prices,” said GM chief economist Elaine Buckberg in a statement.

Thomas King, head of data for JD Power, said that March is usually a big sales month for carmakers. Instead, all car manufacturers had only 900,000 vehicles in their inventories across the country, and this reduced sales.

Still, consumer demand remains strong and discounts are few, pushing up the average sales price to record levels of $ 44,129 for the quarter, JD Power said.

Vehicles that go to the dealership sell quickly, according to Edmunds.com. Gas-powered vehicles sat for only 20 days on average compared to 62 days in March last year. Demand for electric vehicles was also strong as they only sat for 21 days, compared to 63 a year ago. Gas-electric hybrids moved from the lot in an average of 15 days, compared to 48 in March 2021, Edmunds said.

Some dealers report that all vehicles on their way from factories have already been sold.

But Edmund’s CEO Jessica Caldwell said carmakers are likely to face a shortage of new parts due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in addition to the chip shortage. “This combination of headwinds could mean that these stock problems will persist well into the rest of the year,” she said.

Edmunds predicts a 15% decrease in sales for the quarter.

The prices of used vehicles are also high. The average trade in value was $ 9,274 in March, 81% more than a year ago, JD Power said. But even with that, monthly payments are likely to reach a record $ 658, the company said.

Toyota, with 514,592 sales from January to March, overtook GM by 512,846 to stay as the best-selling carmaker in the United States. Toyota beat GM in sales last year for the first time.

Friday’s sales figures do not include Ford or Tesla, both of which plan to report figures at a later date.


Sales of new cars, prices rise when chip shortages reduce supply in the US


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