Toyota’s U.S. sales fell 15% in the first quarter due to a chip shortage

General Motors and Toyota Motor suffered significant declines in US car and truck sales for the first three months of the year as the global shortage of computer chips continued to disrupt production and leave dealerships empty-handed.

GM reported Friday that its sales fell 20 percent to 512,846 light cars and light trucks. Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, sold 514,592 vehicles in the first three months of the year, down 15 percent. The company’s sluggish sales worsened later in the quarter, falling 24 percent year over year in March.

Edmunds, a provider of automotive data, forecast total industry sales of 3.2 million vehicles in the quarter, up from 3.9 million a year earlier.

“Soaring gasoline prices were the main focus for consumers in March, but a lack of inventory ultimately weighed on new vehicle sales in the first quarter,” said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds executive director of insights. “Automakers are still grappling with ongoing supply chain and production disruptions caused by the chip shortage and Covid-19. In addition, they will likely face new challenges with the invasion of Ukraine.”

Rivian, an electric vehicle maker that recently started selling a pickup truck, also pointed to the war in Ukraine in its annual report on Thursday, saying the conflict has impacted multiple facets of its business and operations.

Ms. Caldwell predicted that automakers and dealers would grapple with inventory shortages for the remainder of this year.

GM said its dealerships have 273,760 vehicles in inventory or on the way to their lots. That was an improvement from the second half of last year, but less than at the end of March 2021, when dealers had 334,628 vehicles in stock.

Still, company officials said they were confident chip supply would improve soon. “Supply chain disruptions are not fully behind us, but we expect to continue to exceed 2021 production levels, particularly in the second half of the year,” said Steve Carlisle, executive vice president and president of GM North America, in an explanation .

GM said a strong job market, higher production and pent-up demand should help boost total sales of new cars and trucks in the United States this year above the 15 million sold in 2021.

“Normally, such a strong US economy would result in light vehicle sales in the 17 million range,” said Elaine Buckberg, GM’s chief economist. “Improvements in the supply chain should boost auto sales later in the year, despite headwinds from higher inflation and fuel prices.”

GM’s sales of electric vehicles, the fastest growing segment of the auto market, remained very low in the first quarter. The company sold fewer than 500, 99 of which were Hummer pickups.

Toyota, which is yet to sell an all-electric vehicle in the US, said it had strong demand for hybrid models, with sales falling just 4 percent in the first quarter.

Honda, Stellantis and other automakers are expected to report sales figures later on Friday. Ford Motor plans to release its sales figures on Monday. Toyota’s U.S. sales fell 15% in the first quarter due to a chip shortage

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