US new vehicle sales drop 21% in second quarter

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US new vehicle sales drop 21% in second quarter

In the second quarter, US new vehicle sales fell by more than 21% compared to a year ago, as the global semiconductor shortage continued to cause production problems for the industry.

Demand still outstripped supply from April to June, even with $5 per gallon gasoline, high inflation and rising interest rates. The low supply has knocked many consumers out of the new-vehicle market, which has raised prices to record levels.

Automakers sold 3.49 million vehicles during the quarter, a decline of nearly 933,000 compared to the same period last year, according to Edmunds.com.

Power estimates that the average sales price of a vehicle for the first six months of the year hit nearly $45,000, a record that is 17.5% higher than a year ago. In June, 12.7% of consumers who financed a new vehicle had monthly payments of $1,000 or more.

The company had to build 95,000 vehicles without one part or another because of the shortage of chips at General Motors, which reported a 15% sales drop. The incomplete vehicles are expected to be sold and finished by the end of the year.

Jack Hollis, head of Toyota sales in North America, said the chip shortage didn't improve as much as expected in the first half of the year, and he doesn't think it's going to improve until next summer.

Hollis said that every microchip producer is producing at maximum speed because they have maximum demand. There is no catching up going on. Toyota sales fell 18% in the first half of the year and 19% in June. That allowed GM to pass the Japanese company and retake the crown as the top-selling automaker in the U.S., a title that GM lost last year.

Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler, posted a 16% decline in sales. Honda's second-quarter sales fell by more than half, with the company blaming severe supply chain issues. Nissan sales fell nearly 39% for the quarter, and Hyundai posted a 23% sales decline.

Most automakers reported sales figures on Friday, but Tesla is likely to do so this weekend and Ford won't report until Tuesday.

In the last quarter, nearly 3.5 million new vehicles were sold in the U.S., 20.8% fewer than in the same period a year ago, according to Edmunds. Edmunds expects that inventory shortages continue for the foreseeable future, frustrating auto buyers.

Edmunds analyst Jessica Caldwell said that the majority of consumers who are purchasing vehicles in these conditions are either in a financial position where money is less of a consideration or are doing so out of absolute necessity.

Toyota's Hollis said demand remains extremely strong, especially for more efficient gas-electric hybrid vehicles, and the company's electric vehicle, the BZ 4 x. Hybrids and plug-ins accounted for about 27% of Toyota's sales in June, following a rising trend, he said.

Hollis said supply problems are limiting inventory and sales. He said that the company started June with 9,000 vehicles on dealer lots and ended up with about 8,500. Within 36 hours of arriving at dealers, vehicles are being sold.

Hyundai will stop selling its Accent and Veloster small cars in the US, furthering the trend of automakers cutting car models as SUVs have become America's favorite body style.

Randy Parker, head of sales for Hyundai Motor America, said he expects the chip shortage to get better this year, and that there will be a 30% increase over last year.

Parker said that the company's main electric vehicle, the Ioniq 5, is selling strong, with nearly 7,500 delivered in the second quarter.

But smaller, fuel-efficient gasoline vehicles don't seem to be faring as well. Hyundai's Elantra compact car saw a 44% drop in sales during the quarter, but sales were stopped for a time due to a safety recall issue.

Honda's Civic sales fell 54% during the first half, and Toyota's Corolla compact car sales fell 25% from January through June.