US auto sales rebounded in the fourth quarter of 2020, with a 2.4% decline in the same period of 2019. This follows drops of 12.5% in Q1, 33.4% in Q2 and 9.5% in Q3 and brings the full-year figure to 14.65 million, down 14.4% on last year’s 17 million sales. This is the biggest year-on-year drop since 2009 and the lowest annual volume since 2012 at 14.49 million. For the past 5 years, the US car market has topped 17 million sales each year, peaking at 17.68 million in 2016.
Utility vehicles (SUVs, crossovers, pickup trucks and vans) are down 10% and jump to a record 76% of the US car market, while car models (sedans, hatchbacks, wagons, coupes and convertibles) are down 26.4% to just 24%. Cars outsold utility vehicles as recently as 2012, but their share has dropped continuously since: just three years ago it was still over 35%. American brands gain 0.2 percentage points of market share to 45.1%, with Tesla responsible for all of those share gains. Japanese brands lose 1.1 percentage points of market share to 36.6%, the lowest since 2011. European brands gain 0.3 percentage points of market share to 8.6%, the highest since 2012. South-Korean brands gain 0.6 percentage points of market share to 8.4%, also the highest since 2012.
Ford remains on top of the brands ranking, but loses 0.3 percentage points of market share and its gap to Toyota shrinks to less than 92,000 sales, from nearly 209,000 in 2019, as the Japanese brand adds 0.4 percentage points of share. #3 Chevrolet also gains 0.4 percentage points and is in fact the best performing brand in the top-7, together with RAM, both at -11.1%.
Nissan and Honda are the worst performers in the top-15 at -33.2% and -16.6% respectively. That allows Jeep to close in on a top-5 position by fewer than 25,000 sales.
Mazda is the only brand in the top-15 to actually improve its sales on 2019, with a 0.2% increase and gaining 3 places by leapfrogging Dodge, BMW and Lexus. Next best performers in the top-15 are Kia (-4.8%), GMC (-8.8%), Mercedes-Benz (-8.9%) and Hyundai (-9.7%). That allows Hyundai to reclaim 8th place from Subaru and close in on RAM’s 7th place, with just 2,200 sales between them.
BMW is the best selling luxury brand ahead of Lexus and Mercedes-Benz, which sold 274,916 luxury vehicles. Its brand total of 325,915 sales includes Sprinter and Metris vans, which are not luxury vehicles. Looking at other luxury brands, Tesla leaps ahead of Audi and Buick, while Volvo moves past Lincoln and Land Rover outsells Infiniti. Alfa Romeo jumps past Genesis, but the latter just introduced its first crossover and should be able to finally gain some traction in 2021.
Dodge is the biggest loser among major brands, with sales down 36.8%, while Volvo (+1.8%) and Tesla (+0.5%) are the big winners of 2020.
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