Auto Sales Continue To Break Records

Industry News / 5 Comments

People are back out, in dealerships, and buying cars.

Auto sales in May continued to rebound from 2020 with a bunch of manufacturers posting 40, 50 and 60% increases, over last May, even as the microchip shortage closes in. Demand is still strong, and government stimulus is helping buyers take the plunge on a new vehicle. J.D. Power predicts a May record of 1.39 million light vehicles when everything is tallied, a 34% increase over May. Let's break down the brands and see where they fell, remembering that most manufacturers now release their numbers quarterly.



Honda came out strong in May, setting an all-time sales record for any month at 176,815 units. Honda's light trucks also set a record with the Ridgeline pickup up 72%; and that's before the on-sale date of the new one. The Passport is up 45% and the small HR-V crossover is up a whopping 116%. Accord and Civic accounted for 62,000 sales, and buyers haven't even tested the new model yet; CR-V and Pilot set records as well.

On the Acura front, it posted its best sales in almost 15 years with 18,000 deliveries in May. The MDX and RDX had their best May ever, posting 111% and 32.5% gains respectively, while the TLX had its best month since the launch of its new model last year. The Civic-based Acura ILX posted its best sales month in five years.



The South Korean brand is 56% up from last May with a total of 90,017 sales, up from 57,619 in May 2020. The brand has sold 110,000 more cars than it had last year at this point. The spunky little Veloster is the only car with a dip in the month. Hyundai moved just 244 units of the hatch last month, down from 858 last May. The Ioniq went gangbusters with a gain of 247%, sending more than 2,100 units out for sale. The pre-N Elantra was up 147% with sales totaling 18,821 and the Sonata gained 130% over last May, moving 13,487 vehicles to their forever homes. The Venue also doubled sales, with an increase of 119%.

A Hyundai spokesman revealed that new-vehicle stock dropped 26 percent from the start of May to June 1.



On the Kia side, the company celebrated its third straight month of record sales in May, led by the Forte, K5, Sportage and Carnival MPV. Compared to last year, sales are up 43.9% up to this point.

"Kia continues to grow market share due to increased dealer engagement, strong marketing campaigns and award-winning products - the latest example of which is the all-new and right-priced Carnival MPV - which has doubled its market share over the outgoing Sedona," said Sean Yoon, president and CEO of Kia North America and Kia America.

Kia moved 13,323 Forte sedans in May, almost double May 2020's number. The K5 more than doubled from 5,854 in May 2020 to 12,459 units last month. The Sportage was up 45% with 11,035 units sold. What makes that surprising is that we have a new one coming very soon, which usually leads people to wait, but since we only got our first glimpse a few days ago its probably too early for that phenomenon. The Sedona-turned-Carnival was up more than 50% as well in the month.



Genesis didn't disappoint either. Its deliveries jumped 176% to 3,728, a monthly record. Genesis started sales of the GV70 crossover last month, and along with the GV80, outsold combined volume of its three sedans. The GV80 set a monthly record with 2,037 units sold.



Mazda's May sales totaled 42,187 vehicles, an increase of 69.2% compared to May 2020. Certified Pre-Owned sales were up 10%. It was an all-time high for both; the previous sales record month was March 1994.

Mazda didn't break out all its sales and percentages, but it sold almost 8,000 CX-30s in May. That's a "best ever" as well, but the vehicle just came out 18 months ago. It was the best sales month for CX-5 too. Mazda moved 20,595 units of the crossover. And it was also the best month for CX-9 with 4,409 vehicles sold. It gave no word on our favorite Mazda, the Miata, which it would if sales were up. Still, it's the car the company is best known for, so we see no reason to worry.



Subaru reported just a 9% increase over last May, but its sales were led encouragingly by the WRX/STI and Forester. Year-to-date was better with a 30.6% increase over the same time period last year. May 2021 marked the thirteenth consecutive month of 40,000-plus vehicle sales for the Japanese marque.

Even with all that good news, there's still some bad, and we'll start with that. First, it's down from May 2019, which is the more apt pre-pandemic comparison. Subaru only moved 19 BRZs last month, down from 227 last May. The sports coupe is reaching the end of its lifecycle, and we just got word on a new generation that will surely improve those numbers. The three-row Ascent was also down precipitously.

WRX/STI was up more than 40% with more than 3,000 vehicles sold. Outback is up 23% and Forester was up 12%, moving just over 20,000 units. The base Impreza was down just a touch while the Crosstrek was up 5.6%.



Ford's total sales were only up 4.1% over May last year, and its retails sales were actually down 11.2%. But there were still some bright spots. Its electrified sales grew 184% in the month, with 10,346 vehicles moved. The Ford F-150 PowerBoost made up 2,852 of that; the Mustang Mach-E was responsible for 1,945 units. The most sold vehicle was the electrified Escape crossover, with 3,617 units sold, up 125% over last year.

Its SUVs were up 51.8% on strong sales of Bronco Sport and Mach-E. The Escape overall was up 51.4%. On the truck front, F-Series was up 4.7% and Ranger blew last May away with an increase of 41.8%.

Lincoln SUV sales were up across the entire lineup in May, says the company, with a total of 7,871 SUVs sold, up 24.3%.



Toyota and Lexus were up 46.5% and 48.6%, respectively, despite supply chain issues. Year-to-date those percentages are about the same. Toyota's light truck sales rose just 30% in May, after rising 170% in April. According to executive vice president for sales at Toyota Motor North America Bob Carter, the brand is starting June with just an 8-day supply of vehicles, while Lexus has a 12-day supply.



Swedish brand Volvo saw its total cars sold increase from 44,830 to 64,111 in May. That's a 43% improvement. "The growth was mainly driven by a strong demand in the US and, in Europe, a recovery from a sales drop in May last year related to the Covid-19 pandemic," said Volvo. "In China, where sales returned to growth around this time last year, the company reported a steady increase of 11.7 percent."

The Recharge line did well, representing 40% of the company's overall sales in Europe. In the US, sales increased by 38.9% compared with the same month last year, driven by a strong demand for the XC90 and XC60. Total sales reached 13,221 cars, an increase from 9,519 units sold in the same period in 2020.


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