Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Kia sales slip as chip woes spread

Eric Watson, vice president of sales operations at Kia America, cited “challenges facing the industry regarding parts availability and overall inventory” for the company’s August results. 

Hyundai said overall retail sales fell 7 percent last month, with retail deliveries of cars off 3 percent and light trucks down 9 percent, suggesting more shoppers are delaying a purchase until availability and selection improve.

“Consumer demand for Hyundai vehicles remains at an all-time high and we expect our inventory pipeline to improve throughout the remainder of the year,” said Randy Parker, senior vice president for national sales at Hyundai Motor America.

August volume rose 4.6 percent at Mazda and new crossovers continue to boost Genesis, with sales soaring 266 percent to 4,975.

Subaru and Volvo are scheduled to report August sales later Wednesday. Ford Motor Co. will release results for the month on Thursday. The rest of the industry reports sales on a quarterly basis.

U.S. light-vehicle sales are expected to fall 4 to 18 percent in August, based on estimates from Cox Automotive, TrueCar, J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.

The seasonally adjusted, annualized rate of sales is projected to drop to 13.1 million to 14.4 million, the four forecasting companies say.

A 13.1 million reading would be the lowest of the year and the lowest since June 2020’s 13.23 million rate, early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

The severe microchip shortage, along with new COVID-19 restrictions in southeast Asia that have disrupted key supply chains, continue to undermine car and light-truck output and supplies.

Inventories remained severely depressed and well below 1 million in August, J.D. Power and LMC Automotive say, compared to car and light-truck supplies of 3 million two years ago.

Honda last week warned September U.S. deliveries to dealers will be 40 percent below planned levels, even as the company prioritizes North American output.

Several analysts and automakers have begun to slash their outlook for U.S. sales in 2021. LMC early last month cut its forecast for U.S. deliveries this year to 16.5 million, a drop of 400,000 units from its previous forecast, and then down again to 15.8 million late last month.

LMC may make more cuts to its 2021 forecast based on how August finishes.

“I don’t see any relief in September and with the additional production cuts announced over the last two weeks, it may be as bad or worse this month,” said Jeff Schuster, president of Americas operations and global vehicle forecasts at LMC Automotive.

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