This story was updated with Subaru’s sales results.
The handful of carmakers providing sales numbers for January reported promising results, delivering small gains compared with the pre-pandemic sales in January 2020.
Toyota Motor North America, the largest automaker reporting sales numbers, said it sold 166,232 vehicles last month, up 0.2% on a volume basis from a year ago. Toyota Division sales for the month were 146,591 vehicles, up 0.2%. Lexus Division sales for the month were 19,641 vehicles, up 0.1%.
TMNA January truck sales were up 8.6%, while hybrid sales in January totaled 36,487 – a 78.4% increase. For the month, hybrid sales accounted for nearly 22% of total TMNA sales, Toyota officials said.
With the help of strong retail sales, Hyundai Motor America reported total January sales of 43,394 units, a 2% increase compared with January 2020. Retail sales were up 1% and set an all-time January retail record. Hyundai fleet sales were up 12%, representing 6% of total volume.
“We are off to a strong start to the year and remain optimistic for continued sales and market share gains in 2021,” said Randy Parker, senior vice president, National Sales, Hyundai Motor America. “We’ve been able to consistently grow retail sales thanks to our outstanding product line-up and a commitment from our dealer partners to exceed customer expectations.”
Hyundai sold 40,597 retail units in January. Retail SUV sales were up 11%, representing 69% of the total retail mix, Parker said, noting Hyundai’s strong product portfolio is driving the record retail sales in an interview with TheDetroitBureau.com. “The best it’s been in a very long time. Full stop. Across the board, our products are resonating with consumers,” he said.
“There’s a lot of pent-up demand out there” for the industry, as a whole. “Despite all the bad news about COVID, consumers are ready to get back into the market … to get back some sense of normalcy,” he added.
Mazda also posted a sales increase for January, reporting total sales of 25,259 vehicles, an increase of 6.9% compared to January 2020. With 24 selling days in January, compared to 25 the year prior, the company posted an increase of 11.4% on a Daily Selling Rate basis.
Sales of crossovers, including the CX-3, CX-30, CX-5 and CX-9, totaled 20,279 in January, an increase of 6.9% compared to January 2020 and accounted for four out of five of the units Mazda sold in the U.S., Mazda reported.
Subaru of America Inc. also enjoyed a good month reporting sales 46,400 vehicle for January 2021, a 0.25% increase compared to January 2020, and the best January in the history of the company.
Analysts are expecting January sales to dip in January, due to a decline in fleet sales. Rental car companies are still not buying in large numbers as they are still struggling to recover from the impact of the pandemic.
However, retail sales are expected to increase slightly, when adjusted for the same number of selling days, according to TrueCar. The car-buying service expects the total SAAR to drop to an annual rate of 15.9 million units from 16.8 million units in January 2020 just before the COVID-19 pandemic sent the car business into a tailspin.
Overall, analysts predicted an increase in sales this year after a double-digit decline in 2020 triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The sales forecast for 2021, however, indicate that sales will not reach the 17 million-unit level achieved in the years prior to the pandemic.