January 28, 2023


Born to perform

U.S. Auto Sales See a Steep Decline amid Coronavirus Pandemic

3 min read

  • Stay-at-home orders prompted by the spread of COVID-19 have brought economies to a screeching halt and first-quarter auto sales are the first indicators of how detrimental the disease has been on car buying.
  • FCA has reported a quarterly decline in U.S. sales of 10.4 percent. Hyundai saw its March sales drop by 43 percent.
  • This page will be updated as companies report sales numbers.

    U.S. new vehicle sales for the first quarter and month of March are rolling in and the first indications are that the spread of COVID-19 has led to massive downturns in buying.

    Hyundai reported a year-over-year decline of 43 percent in March 2020, while the company’s quarterly sales declined by 11 percent. With the exception of models that are new for this year such as the Venue, only the Ioniq saw a quarter-over-quarter increase in sales.

    “It goes without saying that the entire world is facing a tremendous challenge that is having a significant impact on business and our normal way of life,” Randy Parker, head of sales for Hyundai Motor America, said in a statement. “We know tough days are ahead but we’re doing all we can to position the company to survive this and return to the growth trajectory we’ve been on.”

    FCA reported a 10.4 percent decline in first quarter sales, a decline cushioned by a seven percent increase in Ram pickup truck sales. Ram was the only FCA brand to see an increase in sales through the last quarter; Dodge dropped 20 percent and Jeep fell 14 percent.

    Luxury automaker Porsche saw a 20.2 percent decline in sales in the first quarter of this year. Nonetheless, with the first two months of this year being largely unaffected by COVID-19, it is expected that those who report on a quarterly basis will see a smaller decline in sales versus those who report March sales.

    According to a Bloomberg survey, on average analysts estimated that sales from the first quarter of last year compared to this past quarter were to drop 6.2 percent for GM, 16.1 percent for Ford, and 9.9 percent for FCA. Ford and GM are yet to report. Sales for the year in the U.S. are expected to see steep drops. Instead of the projected 16.5 million to 17 million in sales, analysts are now forecasting anywhere between 11.2 million and 16 million.

    It’s not just stay-at-home orders keeping people from showrooms. Indicators show that buyer confidence has fallen the most since 2008 and additionally, unemployment claims last week were the highest ever at 3.3 million. For the week ending March 14, claims were 282,000.

    To cushion COVID-19’s blow, automakers have offered incentives not seen since the 2008 recession. GM is offering zero-interest 84-month loans for borrowers with a top-tier credit history and Hyundai/Genesis will cover six months of payments for buyers who lose their jobs due to COVID-19.

    Along with sales slowing, U.S. production has come to a complete stop across the country. Many automakers had originally planned on suspending production for just a week or two, but those such as Ford and GM have extended the stoppages indefinitely as the threat of COVID-19 spreading among factory employees remains high.

    More than 3,900 people have died of coronavirus in the U.S., and as of Wednesday morning, nearly 190,000 people across the country had tested positive for it, according to the New York Times.

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