Slow March Auto Sales to Cap Weakest Q1 in a Decade

  • March new-vehicle sales volume is forecast to fall more than 24% from one year ago and finish near 1.22 million units.

  • Annual new-vehicle sales pace in March is expected to finish near 13.1 million, down from last month’s 14.1 million pace and down from last year’s strong 17.6 million level.

  • First-quarter sales volume is forecast to be down more than 16% year over year, the lowest Q1 volume in the past decade.

ATLANTA, March 28, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — March U.S. auto sales, when reported on Friday, will show a notable drop from last March as the market remains significantly constrained by lack of supply. Despite market conditions that would support healthy demand, the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of sales this month is forecast by Cox Automotive to finish near 13.1 million, down from February’s 14.1 pace and significantly down from last March’s 17.6 million level.

Cox Automotive (PRNewsfoto/Cox Automotive)

Cox Automotive (PRNewsfoto/Cox Automotive)

March U.S. auto sales, when reported on Friday, will show a notable drop from last March, according to Cox Automotive.

Sales volume is forecast to decrease 24% from last March, falling to 1.22 million units. March sales volume will result in Q1 2022 sales being down substantially from last year. Cox Automotive estimates quarterly sales will decline more than 16% from Q1 2021 when 3.9 million units were sold; Q1 2022 is forecast to end with 3.3 million sales and mark the second-worst quarter for new-vehicle sales in a decade, behind only Q2 2020, the height of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The spring selling season traditionally ramps up in March. This year, the month has 27 selling days, one more than last year and three more than last month. The extra days are a key reason March sales volume will show a more than 15% gain over February. Sales volume has been averaging just over 1.06 million each month since last August.

“Make no mistake, this market is stuck in low gear,” said Cox Automotive Senior Economist Charlie Chesbrough. “March sales volume will tick up from February, but this is not due to a substantial change in the market. Low unemployment, relatively low interest rates—the conditions are right for higher sales. With three additional sales days, volume in March will rise month over month. However, seasonal adjustments reveal the true story: Sales remain weak and will basically be stuck at the current level until more supply arrives.”

Cox Automotive Full-Year Sales Forecast Adjusted to Reflect Market Instability

The ongoing chip shortage showing little improvement, coupled with the recent news from Ukraine and ongoing inflation issues, has led Cox Automotive to reduce its full-year new-vehicle sales forecast for the U.S. Cox Automotive now expects light-vehicle sales to reach 15.3 million this year, down 700,000 units from the original forecast released in January. To reach this level by year’s end, the supply situation must begin to show significant gains next quarter and consistent improvement throughout the year, otherwise, another forecast adjustment may be necessary.

March 2022 New-Vehicle Sales Forecast Highlights

  • New-vehicle sales are expected to fall 24% from last March but should rise more than 15% from February 2022 with three more selling days.

  • The SAAR in March 2022 is estimated to be 13.1 million, below last year’s 17.6 million level, and down from February’s 14.1 million pace.

  • All segments will see double-digit month-over-month sales increases with mid-size cars seeing the largest increase at 19.8%.

March 2022 Sales Forecast

Sales Forecast1

Market Share

Segment

Mar-22

Mar-21

Feb-22

YOY%

MOM%

Mar-22

Feb-22

MOM

Mid-Size SUV/Crossover

220,000

272,852

193,152

-19.4%

13.9%

18.0%

18.3%

-0.2%

Compact SUV/Crossover

185,000

263,091

162,892

-29.7%

13.6%

15.2%

15.4%

-0.2%

Full-Size Pickup Truck

175,000

227,328

152,886

-23.0%

14.5%

14.3%

14.5%

-0.1%

Compact Car

82,000

122,163

70,803

-32.9%

15.8%

6.7%

6.7%

0.0%

Mid-Size Car

73,000

100,941

60,935

-27.7%

19.8%

6.0%

5.8%

0.2%

Grand Total2

1,220,000

1,608,763

1,057,523

-24.2%

15.4%

1

Cox Automotive Industry Insights data

2

Total includes segments not shown

Q1 2022 New-Vehicle Sales Forecast Highlights

  • New-vehicle sales volumes are forecast to drop 16% from Q1 2021; Q1 2022 is forecast to show the lowest Q1 sales volumes in a decade.

  • After finishing atop the sales chart in 2021, Toyota Motor Company—combined Toyota and Lexus sales—is forecast to be No. 1 by volume in Q1 2022.

  • Hyundai and Tesla continue to gain share; General Motors forecast to drop notably in Q1.

Q1 2022 Sales Forecast

Sales Forecast1

Market Share

Make

Q1 2020

Q1 2021

Q1 2022

2022 vs
2020

2022 vs
2021

Share
Q1 2020

Share
Q1 2021

Share
Q1 2022

Toyota Motor Corporation

495,747

603,066

510,348

2.9%

-15.4%

14.1%

15.4%

15.6%

General Motors

616,432

639,406

485,330

-21.3%

-24.1%

17.6%

16.3%

14.8%

Ford Motor Company

514,614

517,711

431,123

-16.2%

-16.7%

14.7%

13.2%

13.2%

Stellantis

446,768

469,651

411,174

-8.0%

-12.5%

12.7%

12.0%

12.5%

Hyundai Motor Company

272,775

334,902

317,100

16.2%

-5.3%

7.8%

8.5%

9.7%

Honda Motor Company

298,784

347,091

252,205

-15.6%

-27.3%

8.5%

8.8%

7.7%

Nissan-Mitsubishi

293,169

313,784

216,199

-26.3%

-31.1%

8.4%

8.0%

6.6%

Subaru Corporation

130,591

160,426

141,795

8.6%

-11.6%

3.7%

4.1%

4.3%

Tesla

56,200

69,300

132,052

135.0%

90.6%

1.6%

1.8%

4.0%

Volkswagen Group

128,436

163,069

116,319

-9.4%

-28.7%

3.7%

4.2%

3.5%

Sales Forecast1

Market Share

Make

Q1 2020

Q1 2021

Q1 2022

2022
vs 2020

2022
vs 2021

Share
Q1 2020

Share
Q1 2021

Share
Q1 2022

BMW AG

64,692

77,718

79,685

23.2%

2.5%

1.8%

2.0%

2.4%

Mazda Motor Corporation

67,670

83,258

78,436

15.9%

-5.8%

1.9%

2.1%

2.4%

Daimler AG

75,266

89,915

63,133

-16.1%

-29.8%

2.1%

2.3%

1.9%

Geely Holding Group

19,485

27,357

23,298

19.6%

-14.8%

0.6%

0.7%

0.7%

Tata Group

25,429

27,950

18,699

-26.5%

-33.1%

0.7%

0.7%

0.6%

Rivian Automotive

0

0

720

0.0%

0.0%

0.0%

Lucid Motors

0

0

494

0.0%

0.0%

0.0%

Grand Total2

3,506,058

3,924,604

3,278,110

-6.5%

-16.5%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

1

Cox Automotive Industry Insights data

2

Total includes segments not shown

All percentages are based on raw volume, not daily selling rate.

About Cox Automotive

Cox Automotive Inc. makes buying, selling, owning and using vehicles easier for everyone. The global company’s more than 27,000 team members and family of brands, including Autotrader®, Dealer.com®, Dealertrack®, Kelley Blue Book®, Manheim®, NextGear Capital®, VinSolutions®, vAuto® and Xtime®, are passionate about helping millions of car shoppers, 40,000 auto dealer clients across five continents and many others throughout the automotive industry thrive for generations to come. Cox Automotive is a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises Inc., a privately-owned, Atlanta-based company with annual revenues of nearly $20 billion. www.coxautoinc.com

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SOURCE Cox Automotive