2022 Q3 Quarterly Sales: America's Biggest Winners And Losers

Industry News / Comments

General Motors ended Q3 on a high as Honda faltered once more.

Following a tough second quarter beset by supply chain disruptions and severely compromised inventory, results were mixed in Q3 as inventory stabilized in many cases, although other factors like rising costs and interest rates prevented meaningful growth relative to the previous quarter. On a positive note, US light-vehicle sales in August increased for the first time in over a year, and of the Q3 2022 sales reported so far, carmakers are trailing Q3 2021 by only 0.4%. However, Q3 2022 lagged behind Q2 marginally, based on currently available data.

September was a strong month for several automakers, although many of them only report quarterly sales figures, not monthly. Based on year-on-year sales figures for Q3 2022, these are the brands that saw the most significant gains and losses as we move into what will hopefully be a strong final quarter.

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Winner: Cadillac (+49.5%)

Overall, General Motors had a superb third quarter with 551,976 light vehicles sold, an increase of 24.6% over Q3 2021, to lead the industry over this period. GM was buoyed by much higher inventory - it had almost triple the inventory recorded at the end of Q3 2021 - and Cadillac was the main beneficiary with a 49.5% jump in Q3 sales to 33,672 units. Escalade sales led the way for Cadillac last quarter on 9,953 units - with almost 31% share in the large luxury SUV segment - but the brand's biggest mover by some distance was the Cadillac XT4 crossover which found 5,838 homes, a 929.6% leap. These results are despite the XT4 receiving only minor changes for the 2022 and 2023 model years and likely point to better inventory. The all-electric Lyriq found 36 homes in Q3.

Looking Ahead

GM reported that stable production, improved dealer inventory, and stronger semiconductor supplies contributed to the success of brands like Cadillac in Q3.

"The design, technology and manufacturing investments we have made are helping us meet strong demand for our products," said GM's Steve Carlisle. For Cadillac and other brands under the GM umbrella, a strong finish to the year is within reach.

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Winner: Chrysler (+39.4%)

Although light-vehicle sales were down overall for Stellantis, Chrysler itself performed well with a healthy 39.4% increase over Q3 2021. Of course, Chrysler has a small lineup with only the Pacifica minivan and 300 sedan. The Pacifica sold 17,439 units, a 46% jump, and the 300 moved 4,175 units, up 17%. The 300 received a recent boost when reservations for the limited 300C sold out in just 12 hours before the aging sedan is discontinued.

Looking Ahead

Once the 300 sedan is gone, Chrysler will only have the Pacifica left. Yes, the minivan sells well, but the once thriving brand almost seems like an afterthought today. New models like the Airflow Concept are still some time away, but at least Chrysler can benefit from Stellantis' STLA platforms when it does go electric. Until that happens, the Pacifica will need to carry the baton for this brand alone.

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2021-2023 Chrysler Pacifica Front View
2021-2023 Chrysler Pacifica Side View

Winner: Chevrolet (+30%)

Claiming another spot on the winners' list for Q3 is GM with Chevrolet. 369,269 Chevys that fall into the light vehicle category were sold in Q3 2022, up 30% over Q3 2021. Chevy's top-selling vehicle over this period was, unsurprisingly, the Silverado 1500 on 63,629 units, a drop of 27.9%. Malibu sales saw a huge 7,941% increase to 21,630 units, up from 269 in the same period last year. And, with its battery issues out of the way, the Bolt EV/EUV returned to form with 14,709 sales, an increase of 225.8% - record quarterly sales for the EV. The Traverse (25,388 units), Colorado (24,405), and Equinox (46,646) all also had a strong Q3.

Looking Ahead

Other than Toyota and Ford, no other individual brand sold more cars than Chevrolet in Q3. As with Cadillac, stabilizing inventory has helped GM, and the situation looks promising heading into Q4.

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2019-2023 Chevrolet Malibu Front Angle View
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Best Of The Rest

These automakers also had a positive upswing in Q3 2022 sales:

- GMC (+23.9%; 120,512 cars sold)

- Dodge (+21.8%; 59,756)

- Audi (+20.1%; 49,267)

- Lincoln (+17.5%)

- Ford (+16%)

Tesla - Watch This Space

Not reflected here is Tesla, as it had not yet released Q3 sales data at the time of writing. Tesla was one of the best performers in the US in Q2, but it has thus far only released global deliveries for Q3. That number stands at 343,830 vehicles. Although this is over 100,000 more vehicles than in Q3 2021, Tesla still fell short of analysts' predictions of 364,660 cars, as reported by CNBC, based on estimates compiled by FactSet-owned Street Account.

"While Tesla had delivery challenges in the quarter, this is clearly a soft number that the Street will fret about," Daniel Ives, managing director and senior equity analyst at Wedbush Securities, said, according to CNN Business. "Given the macro environment, a disappointing delivery number from Tesla will be a near-term step back for the bull story with a lot riding on 4Q deliveries."

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Ford - EVs Rise Up

Ford's light vehicle sales totaled 441,397 cars in Q3 2022, up by 16% compared to a year earlier. In September, the brand's EV sales tripled, and its EV segment share was up by 3.1 percentage points relative to September last year. Last month, Ford sold 46,338 F-Series trucks (-26.6%) of which 1,918 were F-150 Lightning models, 3,154 Mavericks (+523.3%), 10,892 Broncos (+220.7%), 2,324 Mustang Mach-Es (+47.3%), and 3,454 Mustangs (+26.6%).

"Ford continued to see high-demand vehicles turning at record rates in September, while developing electric truck and van leadership and extending our overall truck leadership," said Andrew Frick, vice president, Sales, Distribution & Trucks, Ford Blue.

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Loser: Fiat (-48.1%)

It was another lousy quarter for Fiat, but this is no surprise with only the 500X crossover still on sale in this country. That quirky model found 179 homes, a decrease of 43% compared to a year ago. Fiat made up the remainder of its 208 sales for Q3 2022 with help from several discontinued models, including the 500 (seven units sold), 500L (five sold), and Spider (17).

Looking Ahead

While Fiat has some insanely loyal customers around the world, that means very little with an uncompetitive lineup in the USA. The brand needs a more modern crossover, at the very least, to have any hope of retaining relevancy in this region.

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2019-2022 FIAT 500X Crossover Frontal Aspect
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2019-2022 FIAT 500X Crossover Dashboard

Loser: Acura/Honda (-35.8% combined)

Honda and Acura have been more affected by supply issues than most other brands. Last quarter, Honda Motor Company's sales tumbled by over 50% year-on-year. In Q3 2022, a drop of 35.8% at least shows that the automaker is heading in the right direction, and September sales were the best since May due to improving supply issues. Honda's best-selling vehicle in September - the brand reported individual model sales for this month, not Q3 as a whole - was the CR-V on 22,205 units, a good showing since an all-new CR-V is arriving at dealers now. The Ridgeline had both its best September (4,114) and third quarter (12,515). However, the new Civic managed just 9,381 sales in September, down by 40% relative to September 2021.

For Acura, it won't be happy to see TLX sales drop to 571 units in September 2022, down by over 70% compared to a year ago. The new Integra found 1,540 homes in September, though, and the MDX registered 4,086 units, a 94.5% increase over September 2021.

Looking Ahead

"The pipeline is getting stronger with the expectation that increased production in the fourth quarter will support important upcoming all-new model introductions like the CR-V, CR-V Hybrid, and Pilot," said Mamadou Diallo, vice president of Auto Sales for American Honda Motor Co. Inc. He did, however, mention challenges like transportation issues and parts shortages. Hopefully, Honda can recover in Q4 after what has been a difficult year.

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Loser: Volvo (-31.6%)

Volvo managed to move 21,631 cars in Q3 2022, a decline of 31.6%. In September alone, the Swedish company sold 6,627 cars in the USA, a 29.1% drop. 154 of its September sales were for fully electric models and 1,015 went to plug-in hybrid variants. Volvo did not publish sales figures for specific models in the USA, but its top-selling car globally was the XC60 in September, followed by the XC40.

Looking Ahead

Volvo says that although demand for its cars remains strong, especially for Recharge variants, manufacturing output was still hampered by plant closures as well as supply chain disruptions affecting the global market. In South Carolina, Volvo was forced to stop production due to Hurricane Ian last month. Although it won't impact the sales charts yet, the upcoming debut of the EX90 in November is an important one for Volvo, especially since its electrified models sell in high numbers.

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Loser: Mitsubishi (-29.5%)

Mitsubishi registered 16,782 sales in Q3 2022, down from 23,799 in Q3 2021 and representing a decline of 29.5%. The brand echoed the sentiments of so many others by saying that supply constraints for its most popular models continued to make things difficult. Hurricane Ian also caused port closures that affected sales projections. There were some bright spots, though. The Outlander sold 7,178 units, and its CYTD (Calendar Year To Date) sales are up 43.3%. Eclipse Cross sales increased from 2,583 in Q3 2021 to 2,649 in Q3 2022, and it achieved its best-ever September.

Looking Ahead

The new Outlander PHEV is one of Mitsubishi's most promising models but is only entering showrooms in November 2022. Mitsubishi anticipates a "substantial" increase in sales for this model, and together with supply constraints that will hopefully continue to ease up, the brand can expect to end the year on a lighter note.

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Loser: Buick (-27.4%)

Within the GM stable, Buick was the only brand to see a drop in sales in Q3 2022, and it was quite a significant one at 27.4%. For the year, Buick sales look even more dismal, with a decline of 49.3%. Last quarter, two of Buick's top-selling models saw significant declines from a year ago. The Encore GX registered 9,825 sales (-40.5%) and the Envision was at 7,307 (-34.5%). The Encore was on 3,487 (-13.1%) and the Enclave on 7,904 (+3.7, the only Buick to sell more units in Q3 2022 than a year earlier).

Looking Ahead

GM's improved inventory and more stable production in Q3 2022 were obvious, and Buick was one of the carmakers with the highest stockpiles in September, as per Cox Automotive (via Automotive News). Therefore, it appears that Buick as a brand is still struggling to resonate with buyers. Although Buicks are some of the nicest vehicles to own, the brand needs more inspiring models like the Wildcat concept, not to mention at least one competitive EV.

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Other Key Results

  • Hyundai sold 184,431 cars in Q3 2022, a 3% increase from a year ago. This was a Q3 retail sales record, and Q3 records were also broken for the Elantra Hybrid, Ioniq 5, Santa Cruz, Santa Fe PHEV, and Tucson PHEV. Santa Cruz sales reached 8,600 units in Q3, up by 187%. The brand's top-selling model in Q3 was the Tucson at 41,554.
  • Kia and Hyundai were neck-and-neck in Q3, with the former selling 184,808 vehicles, a 4.4% increase. Kia only published model-specific sales figures for September, not the quarter as a whole, with the Sportage (12,412), Sorento (7,350), and Seltos (4,022) all posting healthy year-on-year increases for September.
  • Mercedes-Benz sold 87,682 light vehicles in Q3 2022, up by 23.2% over the previous year. The biggest mover was the new SL with 821 units sold, a 5,764% increase. The GLC was Merc's best-selling vehicle at 19,456, up by 143.7% relative to Q3 2021, while new electric models like the EQS Sedan (1,701 units), EQS SUV (277), and EQB SUV (739) all posted decent numbers.
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  • Toyota sold 458,493 cars in the USA in Q3, down by 5.4%. As with the Koreans, a strong September boosted the Japanese giant's results, as this was its first monthly sales increase since July 2021, snapping a 13-month losing streak. In September, Camry sales totaled 27,859 (+45.8% compared to September 2021), the RAV4 hit 32,317 (+50.8%), and Highlander sales were stable at 19,743 (+3.4%).
  • BMW sold 78,031 cars in Q3 2022, up by 3.2% over Q3 2021. This total was helped by better availability of EVs and good SUV sales, although passenger car sales specifically were down 28.3%. The brand sold 1,727 iXs, 21,077 X5s (+68.1%), and 18,453 X3s (+4.1%). The 4 Series (9,377, +148.6%) had a brilliant quarter but the 3 Series (5,337, -60.7%) did not.
  • Volkswagen sold 88,820 cars in Q3 2022, a 12% increase over the same quarter last year. The biggest jump from Q3 2022 was for the Golf GTI which saw a 465% increase to 1,757 sales. VW's best-selling vehicle in Q3 2022 was the Tiguan on 25,608 units.

At the time of writing, Q3 2022 sales figures in the USA were not available for Polestar, Tesla, Rolls-Royce, Jaguar Land Rover, Lucid, McLaren, and Maserati. We'll update this story as these figures become available.

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Q3 Summary: Mixed Fortunes For Most

While September was a great month for most, Q3 sales dipped overall relative to Q2, underlining a quarter of mixed fortunes.

Although inventory and supply shortages eased for many automakers in Q3, especially in September, analysts have predicted that these improvements could be thwarted by high prices and rising interest rates. The average new-vehicle retail transaction price in September was $45,622, according to J.D. Power, nearly beating the previous high for any month. Whereas consumers were paying around $700 over sticker price in the summer, that number has dropped to the upper $200 range, an indication of a cooling market, according to a statement from Ivan Dury, director of insights for Edmunds.

Still, consumer demand remains high as giants Ford, General Motors, Hyundai, and Kia all posted better light-vehicle sales figures than a year ago. Without any inventory or supply issues, those numbers could all have been higher.

Automakers will be hoping that September is a sign of things to come in Q4, but unpredictable market conditions will keep brands cautiously optimistic about 2022's final chapter.

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