The second round of sales reports confirmed March was an awful month for automakers in the U.S. and things don’t look to be any better in April.
Ford Motor Co. reported sales dropped 12.5% and sales of the F-150 pick-up truck were down even more, falling 13.5%.
The automaker blamed the shift on a sharp decline in retail sales during March and the timing of fleet sales; however, Fiat Chrysler and General Motors reported their pickup sales grew during the first quarter.
Overall F-Series truck sales were down 5.4% to 263,757 units, while the company’s SUV sales fell 11% to 189,720 units. Car sales plunged 36% to 62,853. Ford says its inventory level is in good shape despite the production downtime in March. The company’s dealers are sitting on 100-day supply of vehicles at this point.
Hyundai Motor America reported March sales of 35,118 units, a 43% decrease in comparison with March 2019. This result was due to the substantial business disruptions across Hyundai’s organization and the entire automotive industry from the COVID-19 global pandemic. Fleet sales were down 54% in March and represented 18% of total volume.
Despite overall sales growing 11% in January and February combined, Hyundai sold a total of 130,875 units, a decrease of 11% compared with the first quarter of 2019.
Kia, Hyundai’s sibling, reported a 20% decline in sales in March. Mazda sales were down 41.6% and Mitsubishi sales dropped 52% as stay-at-home orders brought on by the pandemic stopped consumers from shopping for cars starting in mid-March.
Porsche also reported a 20% decline in sales. The German’s sports car maker’s stablemate, Audi, was enjoying a strong start to 2020 with January/February sales up 13%. However, March sales plunged 52% to drag the Q1 sales down 14% compared with the year-ago results.
In addition, Honda’s U.S. affiliate, American Honda was also beating the odds for this year – sales were expected to drop – with a small increase of 0.2%. However, March sales plummeted 48%, pushing first quarter sales down 19.2%.
Chris Hopson, IHS manager of North American vehicle forecasting, said sales in April are also expected to be dismal.
“Incoming reports point to automaker sales down anywhere between 30-40% for the month. Like we’re seeing in other incoming economic data, most of the damage seems to be coming in the second half of the month, as state and municipal level “shelter in place” directives were rolled out, he noted.
“This bodes poorly for sales in April and the downside risks to calendar-year 2020 sales volume remain prevalent, even with the $2.5 trillion stimulus package.”