This story has been updated with additional results.
Sales of new vehicles increased in December as year-end promotions drew customers into showrooms; however, full-year sales results fell double digits under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic that closed down the car business last spring.
With the help of a heavy-duty marketing blitz last month, Toyota Motor North America reported sales of 249,601 vehicles in December, an increase of 20.4% on a volume basis and up 7.5% on a daily selling rate basis compared to December 2019.
For calendar year 2020, TMNA reported sales of 2,112,941 vehicles, a decrease of 11.3% on a volume and a decrease of 11.9% on a DSR basis. Toyota division sales increased 22.9% in December, but dropped 11.9% for the year. Lexus division posted an 8.2% increase in December but for the year, it was down 7.7 percent.
Jack Hollis, Toyota Motor North America senior vice president for automotive operations, said during a conference call the automaker’s market share reached 14.4%, an all-time record for the company. He attributed that to the company’s policy of having “more hybrids and more hybrids and more hybrids.”
Hyundai reported a sales increase for December but said its sales for the fourth quarter of 2020 dropped 2% compared to a year ago and were down 10% for the full year. Fleet sales were especially hard hit during 2020, Hyundai reported.
“We have to give a lot of credit to our Hyundai dealers. It was their ingenuity and resiliency that sustained us through this challenging year and positioned the company for future growth,” said Randy Parker, vice president, National Sales, Hyundai Motor America. “We were leaders in retail and total market share gain for the year thanks to quick action by the entire company and one of the strongest product lineups in the industry.”
American Honda reported a 3.6% sales increase of Acura and Honda vehicles in December. For the fourth quarter, however, sales dropped 5.9%, which was in line with its decline for the full year.
Mazda also reported a sales increase for December of 18.2% compared to December 2019. Full year sales in 2020 totaled 279,076 vehicles sold, an increase of 0.2% compared to 2019.
Porsche Cars North America Inc. said fourth quarter deliveries set a record of 17,560, up 6.4% from a year ago. For the year PCNA sales in 2020 totaled 57,294 vehicles – PCNA’s second-best year ever, down only 6.9% from 2019 due to pandemic effects but still ahead of 2018.
General Motors reported it sold 771,323 vehicles in the fourth quarter of 2020. Total sales for the quarter were up 5% year over year. GM, which reports only quarterly sales numbers, said it had its best fourth quarter retail sales since 2007, with deliveries up 12 percent.
Sales for the calendar year were 2,547,339 units, with total deliveries down 12% compared to 2019 and retail deliveries down 6 percent. It also reported it sold more pickup trucks than any other manufacturer thanks to strong sales of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.
GM also estimated it gained market share in retail and fleet deliveries for both the fourth quarter and calendar year.
“GM outperformed the industry in the quarter and the full year by a significant margin because our manufacturing and supply chain teams and dealers helped keep people safe at work and our launches on track,” said Steve Carlisle, GM executive vice president and president, GM North America.
Carlisle added GM expects a full year of production of the Cadillac Escalade, GMC Yukon, Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban to bolster sales in 2021.
Subaru of America Inc. reported 63,558 vehicle sales for December 2020, a 2% increase compared with December 2019.
For the full year, Subaru sold 611,942 vehicles, a 12.6% decrease compared with calendar year 2019. These results are reflective of the impact the COVID-19 global pandemic has had on the automobile industry.
“In a year that included the COVID-19 pandemic and a global economic crisis, we are proud of our CY 2020 retail sales results,” said Thomas J. Doll, Subaru’s president and CEO.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. reported overall, total U.S. sales for the quarter declined 8% while full-year sales were down 17 percent. Most of the decline came from the sharp drop in fleet orders, specifically rental car companies, which continue to grapple with the reduction in business travelers due to the pandemic, FCA said.
Volkswagen of America, which also reports sales quarterly, said sales increased by 11% in the last three months of 2020. It was the best fourth quarter for the company since 2014, VW officials said. Overall, VW sales dropped 10% for the full calendar year.
Nissan Group had a terrible year with fourth-quarter sales in the U.S. dropping 19.3% versus the prior year. Nissan Group also announced total calendar year 2020 U.S. sales of 899,217 units, a decrease of 33.2% compared to the prior year.
With so many automakers reporting a strong finish to the year, many of the dire predictions of the analysts early on were proven to be incorrect, although the revised forecasts seem to be coming in right on expectation.
Toyota’s Hollis said he expected the industry’s final sales results to come in between 14.5 million and 14.6 million vehicles, especially with the seasonally adjusted average coming in at 16.4 million units. The company predicts 2021 will bring sales of about 16 million units, which Toyota officials described as “very strong.”