For the vast majority of automakers, Q2 of 2022 was incredibly challenging.
We're six months into 2022 and despite a rebound in sales last year the auto industry remains afflicted by dwindling inventory and numerous supply chain disruptions.
Second-quarter sales (Q2) figures in the United States distressingly reflect the cumulative effect of these challenges, with an average drop in light vehicle sales of 21.1% despite high demand.
Some, however, have been able to weather the storm better than others. We take a look at the five biggest winners and five biggest losers for Q2 sales in the USA and predict how the rest of the year will pan out.
Polestar's ambitious plan to boost sales tenfold to 290,000 vehicles in 2025 may not be so farfetched after all. Previously little more than a niche automaker with one aspirational coupe, the company's second-quarter sales volumes jumped by 858.3% compared to the same period last year to 2,300 units thanks to the arrival of the Polestar 2. Yes, that monumental percentage increase is possible because the company's overall production volumes remain far lower than the industry average, but in a period where the industry mood has been decidedly sullen, Polestar's growth is a rare silver lining.
Polestar recently began trading on the Nasdaq and will launch its first SUV, the Polestar 3, later this year. The company looks primed for consistent growth over the next few months.
Until the Airflow EV arrives, Chrysler's minuscule lineup isn't terribly exciting. The aging 300 sedan won't be around for much longer and will become an EV in the next few years, leaving only the fleet-specific Voyager and Pacifica minivans to carry the baton. The latter has continued to thrive, finding 32,097 homes in Q2 of 2022, a 143% increase from last year. In fact, the Pacifica was solely responsible for Chrysler's Q2 sales rising by a brilliant 95%. Sales for the US light vehicle market as a whole declined by 21% in Q2 this year versus Q2 2021, underlining Chrysler's excellent performance over this period.
It can only get better for Chrysler from here. With the Pacifica keeping the brand alive, the Airflow EV will not only be the brand's first EV but will give it at least one crossover. US Head of Sales for Stellantis, Jeff Kommer, admitted that the company faces supply constraints, but this will be a bigger issue for high-selling brands under the company's umbrella like Ram and Jeep.
Tesla's Q2 sales jumped by 53% to 118,700 units compared to the same period last year, an impressive number in isolation. Excessive price hikes and production delays have not prevented Elon Musk's company from growing in America, where a new Texas Gigafactory opened earlier this year. However, looking beyond the USA, Tesla's overall Q2 sales globally marked a rare decline of almost 18% compared to Q1. The company attributed much of this to forced shutdowns of its Shanghai factory due to lockdown regulations in China.
Tesla continues to be a giant in the EV space, but for how long? There is no sign of a cheaper Tesla EV, the Cybertruck isn't here yet, and competitors keep catching up. Volkswagen has said that Tesla has just two years left at the top, and China's BYD is making massive inroads in the EV space, too. Tesla won't go away anytime soon, but the competition is getting fiercer by the day.
Genesis sold 13,945 vehicles in the USA in the second quarter, up by 25.9% compared to the same period last year. The first GV60 electric crossover was delivered in the country during the second quarter, adding to a strong lineup that includes the GV80 SUV and the still-fresh G80 sedan. In June, Genesis sales increased for the 19th consecutive month year over year, and the upcoming Electrified GV70 is only set to continue this trend.
Although the Hyundai Group's sales were down overall in Q2, much of this has been attributed to the chip shortage and low inventory. The smaller Genesis luxury brand has clearly been less affected, as shown by its growth in Q2. In early July, Hyundai sales boss Randy Parker hinted at more favorable year-on-year numbers for the remainder of 2022, which Genesis should also benefit from.
It seems almost unfair to list McLaren, a low-volume exotic maker of high-end supercars, among mainstream brands. But in terms of Q2 percentages, the British marque is one of the few to see growth. 370 McLarens were sold in Q2 2022, up from 300 in the same period last year. The latest Artura is a fantastic hybrid supercar and cheaper than most other McLarens, and it appears to have helped the brand navigate various industry challenges in 2022, despite its own challenges in coming to market when promised.
McLaren's sales numbers are unlikely to fluctuate too dramatically for the rest of 2022; its first SUV is still years away. What may be more of a concern is impending strike action that is likely to cause serious supply issues for the automaker.
Fiat has struggled for some time in the USA and, with only the quirky but unconvincing 500X crossover left in its local lineup, it's perhaps no great shocker that the brand sold a mere 249 cars, down from 891 in the second quarter of 2021. Everything Fiat does well, be it cutesy styling or small runabouts like the 500 hatchback, seems at odds with the tastes of American consumers.
Even Lamborghini sells more cars than Fiat in the USA right now. It's difficult to see where the Italian marque goes from here without something more exciting like the Abarth Pulse, a sporty crossover based on the Fiat Pulse sold in other markets. The new 500 is a superb car, but Americans simply don't buy many small hatchbacks. We fear that Fiat, which wants to go fully electric by 2030, may not be around for much longer at all - at least in this country.
One of America's oldest carmakers is struggling. Buick sales slipped by a disastrous 56.1% in Q2 this year to only 28,929 units. A year ago over the same period, it sold 65,927 cars. A range of anonymous vehicles like the Enclave and the imminent demise of the smaller, dated Encore have no doubt contributed to the brand's slide. Buick's parent company, General Motors, reclaimed the sales crown from Toyota in the second quarter and none of its other brands suffered the same decline in sales. This points to a problem with the Buick brand itself rather than the supply constraints in the industry.
A new logo and a breathtakingly beautiful EV concept called the Wildcat prove that Buick is aware that change is needed. Until that happens, the automaker sticks out like a sore thumb in GM's lineup. New EVs like the GMC Hummer and Cadillac Lyriq mean that the tech is there for Buick to expand into the electric segment. As for GM as a whole, it expects supply chain disruptions to delay about 95,000 vehicles to dealers for the remainder of 2022 - this won't help Buick's cause in any way.
We've grouped Honda together with its luxury arm, Acura, as both brands emerge from a dire second quarter. More so than most other big brands, Honda was thwarted by serious supply issues. In Q2, a total of 215,165 Hondas (-50.6%) and 24,624 Acuras (-51.2%) were sold. Mamadou Diallo from American Honda pointed to "strong turn rates of up to 90 percent" and said that "sales volume is not the best measure of customer demand." Already, Honda has over 6,000 pre-orders for the new HR-V, and the all-new Civic is here. Acura's popular SUVs were also hampered by severe supply issues, with just 1,866 RDXs sold in June (down from 5,638 units in June 2022).
It's clear that Honda's product lineup isn't the problem, but that supply issues are. New models like the Honda HR-V and Acura Integra should perform well if Honda can meet demand. Jeff Schuster, president of global forecasting at LMC Automotive, told Automotive News that "we're not seeing any accumulation of inventory at this point" across the industry as a whole, so Honda's troubles may continue well into Q3.
While BMW's Q2 sales were at least not hit as hard as the industry average, the same can't be said for Mini. The brand sold 5,131 cars in Q2, down from 9,340 units in Q2 2022. Like many others, the BMW Group's numbers were impacted by limited inventory. Every single Mini saw a drop in sales, but the worst-affected model was the brand's only crossover, the Countryman, with a 68.2% decline and only 1,013 units sold in Q2. This surprising turn is against the grain of the current industry in which crossovers are hot property but was perhaps spurred by the fact that the Countryman isn't affordable, and buyers are reeling from high fuel prices and a rising cost of living.
Affordability remains a problem for Mini, especially with so many enticing alternatives from Korea. By contrast, although the Cooper Electric is quite attainable for an EV, it is stunted by its severely limited range. Mini has big plans for a future electrified lineup, but right now, the adorable and fun-to-drive Cooper hasn't moved the game on in a significant way and, combined with supply issues, sales could remain low for the rest of the year. Mini, unlike Fiat, will survive, but expect it to remain niche with small sales volumes for now.
- General Motors reclaimed its sales crown from Toyota, but the latter is battling with low inventory. The industry average is 35 days for dealer inventory, but the Japanese marque is languishing on 20 days and has recently cut production further. GM sold 578,507 light vehicles in the US in Q2, down by 15.4%.
- Toyota Motor North America's Q2 sales slumped by 22.9% to 531,105 cars, including Lexus. The RAV4 remains Toyota's top-selling model for 2022 at 200,885 units, but that in itself is still a downturn of 9.2% compared to this point last year.
- Ford's sales may have dipped by 7.9% in the first half of the year, but it had a stellar June with an increase of 31.1%. By contrast, industry sales dipped 11% in June. High demand for the Bronco and F-Series puts Ford in a strong position heading into Q3. As a whole, Ford sold 480,558 light vehicles in Q2 2022, up by 1.8%, bucking the broader industry trend in this quarter.
- Mazda was one of the biggest losers in Q2, too, with a decline in sales of 42.8% and 60,535 cars sold. In June, Miata sales were down almost 90% compared to June 2021.
Parts supplies continue to fluctuate dramatically from month to month. As a result, most automakers were wary of making projections for the rest of the year. "The situation is so fluid right now that on a month, you can say one OEM had more chips than the other. But that's too small of a snapshot to understand how well automakers are getting through the process," said Stephanie Brinley, automotive analyst at S&P Global Mobility.
Other analysts suggested that even with rising inflation, the auto industry probably won't take another massive hit as sales are already so low. "Sales are already at recessionary levels, so our vehicle market would be falling off of a curve rather than falling off of a cliff like in a normal recession," said Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist at Cox Automotive.
For at least the next quarter, sales numbers will still reflect the industry's challenges rather than a lack of demand for new vehicles. Unfortunately for many consumers, numerous delays are likely to continue as automakers scramble to acquire the parts necessary to build vehicles.