Asian automakers make big share gains as SAAR drops

Although Toyota and Hyundai-Kia continue to have the industry’s leanest inventories, they have been able to maintain steady flows to their retailers, picking up significant chunks of market share as a result.
Toyota’s sales in the U.S. trailed Ford’s in July 2020 by just over 5,000 vehicles, 169,484 to Ford’s 174,978. Last month was a far different tale for the two full-line automakers, with Toyota nearly doubling up Ford’s sales, 225,022 to 118,917.

In a report last week, Jonas estimated that market share for the Detroit 3 in July collectively dropped 7.2 percentage points from the same period last year to 37.4 percent. He said Ford suffered the worst year-over-year decline, losing 5 points of share as ongoing production woes hamstrung inventories, while General Motors and Stellantis each lost more than a point because of the same issues.

Meanwhile, Asian automakers accounted for 52.5 percent of the U.S. market, Jonas wrote. Toyota, with an industry-leading 17.5 percent share, picked up almost 4 points and opened up a lead on GM, whose share was 15.3 percent. Hyundai-Kia edged Stellantis to claim the No. 3 spot, at 11.1 percent, while American Honda topped Ford to grab fifth place. European automakers also collectively picked up share in July, Jonas estimated, though the gain was not as large, adding 0.6 percentage point to hit 10.2 percent.

Inventories remained at historic lows in July and lost further ground as production failed to keep up with overwhelming consumer demand. But that scarcity may be drawing consumers into a segment they were previously hesitant or unwilling to try: electric vehicles. Jonas estimated that EVs’ penetration last month nearly doubled to 3.1 percent of the market, up from 1.6 percent a year earlier, while their sales were collectively up 99 percent. Those estimates include Tesla, which does not report monthly sales.

“As has been the case since March, depleted inventory remains the major roadblock to stronger demand, while the rising cases from the delta variant [of COVID-19] does pose some additional short-term risk in the coming weeks,” said Jeff Schuster, president of Americas operations and global vehicle forecasts at LMC Automotive. Schuster said the slowing of sales is likely to mean demand will be pushed into 2022, “but there is also risk that some consumers may forgo a new vehicle purchase unless they absolutely need to, since transaction prices remain high and incentives are very low.”

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