General Motors’ light-vehicle sales during 2021 fell more than those of any other automaker. GM also suffered the ignominy of ceding its top selling position for the first time in more than 80 years, as Toyota outsold GM for the first time in automotive history. In other changes of fortune, Hyundai sold more than Honda, and Tesla was the fastest-growing OEM. SUVs reached a record 55% share in 2021, according to the respected LMC Automotive consultancy. AutoInformed notes that in the rigged for the rich US economy, luxury vehicle sales clearly outran the broader market.
Overall, US Light Vehicle sales in December fell by 27% YoY, ending a chaotic 2021 at 14.9 million units. LMC noted that even December – traditionally one of the strongest months of the year – flopped and registered the steepest YoY decline of the calendar. The rate of change in the Covid infected world is increasingly making traditional long-term based indexes – such as calendar years irrelevant, or even downright harmful indicators for policy makers, businesses and anyone who uses them for planning.
“Sales, in percentage and YoY terms, have now fallen by double digits in each of the last five months and the full year volumes have again, for the 7th time since 2000 failed to hit 15million units,” said LMC.
The December annualized selling rate – aka SAAR – fell to 12.4 million units, the second weakest rate of the year behind September’s 12.1 million-unit pace. However, automakers sold 44,000 units/day, up from 42,000 units/day in November. Nonetheless, this result remains well below the average of 62,000 vehicles in March. Retail sales finally returned to the 1-million-unit level; a level last achieved in July. Fleet sales remain depressed and are estimated to have accounted for just 11% of December’s total sales.
“There were several notable changes in the sales ranking and competitive landscape in the disrupted 2021. As we expected, a stockpile of chips led Toyota to outsell General Motors for the first time ever by a margin of 130,000 units. The Hyundai/Kia group was ahead of Honda by 22,500 units, helped by an expanding Genesis brand. BMW held the top position in the Premium segment and Tesla held the strongest growth rate in 2021, putting the brand just 15,000 units behind Mercedes-Benz. Tesla also helped the Premium and Super-Premium segments to reach a record 15% share of the US market. SUVs also registered a record, accounting for 55% of total sales, while Cars fell to under 20% for the first time. Midsize Non-Premium SUV was the most popular segment in 2021, with a 17% share. Compact Non-Premium SUV and Large Pickup were the only two other segments that sold more than 2 million units,” according to Augusto Amorim, Senior Manager, Americas Vehicle Sales Forecasts, LMC Automotive.