cloudy.png
Monday December 6th, 2021 9:49AM

Late sales rebound helps US automakers avoid 2020 disaster

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

DETROIT (AP) — Sales of new vehicles in the U.S. fell 14.6% last year, but a second-half rebound from a coronavirus-related plunge in the spring kindled optimism for a recovery later this year.

Automakers on Tuesday reported selling 14.57 million new vehicles for the year, a far cry from the five previous years with sales over 17 million. But the 2020 performance was better than most forecasters had expected when the pandemic forced auto factories and many dealerships to shut down in April and May.

General Motors Chief Economist Elaine Buckberg said she expects sales to recover in the spring. With warmer weather and widening novel coronavirus vaccinations, life should return more toward normal, lifting the job market and auto demand, she said in a statement.

“We feel like there's light at the end of the tunnel,” said Randy Parker, vice president of sales for Hyundai Motor America. “I think it's going to be a solid year.”

But Parker said he's still cautious, with hospitals overflowing in California and cases rising in other states. “It's far from over,” he said. “We can't afford to let our guard down at this point.”

Last spring, unemployment skyrocketed as states imposed lockdowns and other measures to limit the virus' spread. Auto sales tumbled 34% in the first half of the year as factories closed for about two months, cutting off the supply of new vehicles.

But as the summer came, people with jobs started splurging on loaded-out cars, trucks and SUVs late in the year. That and low interest rates drove sales up and pushed the average auto sales price to a record of just over $38,000 in December, according to J.D. Power. Also in December, sales rose 5% from the same month in 2019, and GM said its sales improved every month since May.

“Those that haven't been financially impacted by the pandemic are redistributing funds from travel to home improvement, house purchasing and vehicles,” said Jeff Schuster, president of global vehicle forecasting for the LMC Automotive consulting firm.

Automakers still haven't been able to make up for production lost during their factory closures, and that has kept inventory tight and limited buyers' choices to more expensive vehicles, Schuster said.

Retail sales to individual buyers are close to normal levels, but sales to fleet buyers such as rental car companies are still down.

Analysts say the higher prices and tight inventory won't be changing much anytime soon.

“These factors will continue into 2021, with supply lagging demand and reflected in higher prices for new and used vehicles,” said Karl Brauer, executive analyst for the iSeeCars.com auto website.

Schuster said he expects 2021 sales to rise to 15.7 million this year as inventory improves in the second and third quarters. He doesn't expect a return to 17 million until at least 2024.

Among automakers, GM's sales were down 11.9% for the year, while Toyota sales were off 11.4%. Ford fell 15.4%, while Fiat Chrysler was off 17.4%. Struggling Nissan reported sales down 33.2% for the year, while Honda fell 16.3% and Hyundai sales dropped 10%. Volkswagen Group was down 12.8%, while Subaru sales were off 12.6%.

For the year, sales of fully electric vehicles rose 9.9% to 260,092, according to Autodata Corp.

Sales of cars continued to fall, dropping to 28.3% of the market, with trucks and SUVs making up 71.7%.

Ford's F-Series pickups remained the nation's top-selling vehicle with 787,422 sales, down 12.2%. The Chevrolet Silverado was second at 586,675, up 2.8%. The Silverado ousted Fiat Chrysler's Ram pickup from the No. 2 slot. It passed the Silverado in 2019. Toyota's RAV4 was the top-selling SUV at 430,387 in sales, while the Toyota Camry was the most popular car with 294,348 in sales.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News, AP Business - Economy
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
The Latest: Trump's false fraud claims resonate with GOP
President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims about the 2020 election have resonated with Republican voters in Georgia: About 7 in 10 agree with his false assertion that Joe Biden is not the legitimately elected president
6:07PM ( 43 seconds ago )
Georgia deciding US Senate control in election's final day
Georgians are casting their ballots in two critical races that will determine control of the U.S. Senate and, in turn, the fate of President-elect Joe Biden’s legislative agenda
6:01PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Late sales rebound helps US automakers avoid 2020 disaster
U.S. new-vehicle sales fell 14.6% last year, but a second-half rebound from a springtime plunge kindled optimism for recovery later this year
5:56PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Pandemic haunts new year as virus growth outpaces vaccines
Despite growing vaccine access, January is looking grim around the globe as the virus resurges and reshapes itself from Britain to Japan to California
5:14PM ( 53 minutes ago )
EXPLAINER: Breaking down Biden’s Iran problem
Joe Biden has an Iran problem
5:01PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: NY officials offer competing vaccine strategies
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are offering competing strategies for ramping up New York’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts
5:00PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
After top staff exodus, Texas AG seeks $43M for Google suit
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is seeking $43 million in taxpayer money to pay outside lawyers to lead a 10-state antitrust lawsuit against Google
3:25PM ( 2 hours ago )
Brazilian city in Amazon declares virus state of emergency
The Brazilian city of Manaus in the heart of the Amazon has declared a 180-day state of emergency due to a surge of new cases of coronavirus, according to a statement
3:21PM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Brazil yet to approve, start virus vaccinations
The Brazilian government, under pressure to begin an immunization campaign, expects to receive 2 million of the AstraZeneca vaccines this month
12:53PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
World Bank sees subdued recovery in 2021 and plenty of risk
The World Bank on Tuesday forecast that the global economy will see a subdued recovery this year from a devastating pandemic but warned that the near-term outlook is highly uncertain and growth could be harmed if infections keep rising and the rollout of vaccines is delayed
12:42PM ( 5 hours ago )
India says it hasn't banned the export of COVID-19 vaccines
India's health ministry says the government hasn't banned the export of COVID-19 vaccines
11:40AM ( 6 hours ago )
Wall Street wobbles after its sharp slide to start 2021
U.S. stocks are wobbling between small gains and losses on Tuesday, a day after dropping to their worst loss in months amid the worsening pandemic and potentially market-moving Senate elections
11:00AM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
Georgia deciding US Senate control in election's final day
Georgians are casting their ballots in two critical races that will determine control of the U.S. Senate and, in turn, the fate of President-elect Joe Biden’s legislative agenda
6:01PM ( 6 minutes ago )
The Latest: Ga. Public Broadcasting denied GOP party access
Georgia Public Broadcasting says its reporters have been denied access to the Georgia GOP’s election night watch party
5:50PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Falcons interview Rams' Holmes, Colts' Brown in GM search
The Atlanta Falcons have interviewed two directors of college scouting, Brad Holmes of the Los Angeles Rams and Morocco Brown of the Indianapolis Colts, for their general manager position
5:37PM ( 30 minutes ago )
No charges against Wisconsin officer who shot Jacob Blake
A Wisconsin prosecutor has declined to file criminal charges against a white police officer who shot a Black man in the back last summer
5:35PM ( 32 minutes ago )
Sharpton: Firing officer who killed Andre Hill is not enough
The life of Andre Hill was commemorated Tuesday morning as family and lawmakers called for justice to be brought against the white Columbus police officer who fatally shot the 47-year-old days before Christmas
5:33PM ( 35 minutes ago )