US Auto Sales Declined 22–23% In 4th Quarter

It’s been a busy beginning of the year already, and we’ll have more to report on that shortly, but let’s first take a stroll back a few months to look at what happened in the US auto industry in the 4th quarter of 2021.

To get started, looking at the overall auto market, it was down in the 4th quarter of 2021 by 22% compared to the 4th quarter of 2020 and down by 23% compared to the 4th quarter of 2019. Sales were nearly one million units lower in the 4th quarter of 2021 versus the 4th quarter of 2019.

Narrowing down to the automaker level, we can see that just four automakers achieved sales growth from the 4th quarter of 2020 to the 4th quarter of 2021. Before we get into this, though, note that I’ve basically used Troy Teslike’s Estimates for US Tesla sales (Tesla doesn’t publish its US sales totals, only global sales totals).

Mitsubishi had the most growth on a percentage basis (68%), followed by Tesla (54%), Chrysler (18%), and Porsche (5%). After that, every other auto brand saw a decline in sales, but Fiat took the cake (down 64%). Close to the bottom, four other automakers sat between a 40% and 50% decline in sales — Cadillac (-48%), Infiniti (-47%), Audi (-47%), and Chevrolet (-45%).

In the next chart, you can see the change in terms of unit sales rather than a percentage. From this perspective, Tesla topped the charts, with nearly 40,000 more sales in the 4th quarter of 2021 than in the 4th quarter of 2020. Mitsubishi came in second in this ranking, with a bit more than 10,000 units of sales growth.

As far as the losers, Chevrolet absolutely dominates in this comparison — down by more than 233,000 sales! Toyota was also horrible, at more than 159,000 fewer sales.

What about the 4th quarter of 2021 compared to the 4th quarter of 2019, though? In this comparison, Tesla led in percentage growth, up 111%, followed by Chrysler (24%), Porsche (12%), and Mitsubishi (2%). No other automaker had a positive sales trend.

On the losing end, Fiat again led the way, if we can say it that way (-85%). Infiniti was down 63% and Dodge was down 55%.

Looking at the same quarter-versus-quarter comparison, but focused on volume sales changes, the order of improvement was still Tesla (+59,400), Chrysler (+7,860), Porsche (+1,904), and then Mitsubishi (+387). On the bottom of the chart, Chevrolet again had more than 200,000 units of losses (-210,757), followed again by Toyota (-106,747), Honda (-100,652), Nissan (-87,484), and Ford (-84,423).

So far, we’ve just looked at sales gains and losses, without a glimpse into the automakers’ actual sales. Sharing sales charts for Q4 of each of the past 3 years, we can see both who has been leading the market and how that has shifted around. Since Tesla is the only pure electric brand, let’s first take a look at how its ranking has changed. Tesla has risen from 18th in the market in Q4 2019 to 16th in the market in Q4 2020 to 11th in the auto market in Q4 2021. Moven’ on up!

Ford lost the #1 spot in 2020 but then regained it in 2021. Toyota temporarily had the #1 spot in the 4th quarter of 2020, sandwiched between stints at #2 in Q4 2019 and Q4 2021. Chevrolet, meanwhile, was always sitting just below Toyota, going from 3rd to 2nd to 3rd. Honda sat at a solid 4th all along the way, well below the top three spots but solidly above the rest of the automotive field.

For more info, charts, and perspective on the US auto market and how it’s been changing, stay tuned for our 2021 report (coming shortly after this report) and our Q1 2022 report.


 

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