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USA First Half 2020: Pickups (-10%), Mazda (-7%), Lincoln (-8%) resist market collapse (-23.5%)

The Chevrolet Silverado is up 4% year-on-year in a market down -23.7%.

15/07 update: Now with complete data including Mercedes and Jaguar Land Rover.

Hit full frontal by the coronavirus crisis with 3.431.574 total cases and 136.466 lives lost according to figures by Johns Hopkins University at the time of updating this article, the U.S. sees its light vehicle market skid -23.5% over the First Half of 2020 to 6.480.506 units excluding Daimler and Jaguar Land Rover whose figures are pending – that’s almost 2 million units lost over the period compared to 2019. One segment stands out head and shoulders above the rest of the U.S. market, and not just in size: pickup trucks take advantage of less virus-affected regions where they are most popular and only decline -10.4% to 1.318.789 units, grabbing a 20.3% market share vs. 17.4% a year ago, and ever 25% among non-luxury brands. Local sales endured an estimated -39% drop in March, -50% in April-33% in May and -27% in June. If retail deliveries perked back up relatively quickly in May and June due to pent-up consumer demand, easing government restrictions and record incentives, fleet sales cratered to -78% in May and -68% in June according to ALG as businesses retrench employees and movement restrictions cripple tourism and rental car demand. Another issue is looming as factories endure stop and start activity as workers fall ill: tight inventory, notably on popular pickups, crossovers and SUVs such as the Ford Explorer and Ram pickup but also less in-vogue cars such as the Honda Civic and Accord. According to local outlet Automotive News, the shortages are expected to undermine industry sales in July and August,

Covid-19 State situation as of July 7 and April 4 – July 1 cases comparison. Source New York Times

Indeed, Second Half 2020 prospects are cloudy: across the country, new coronavirus cases are increasing to their highest level since the start of the pandemic, notably in the west and south and in some of the industry’s biggest markets:  Houston, Los Angeles and large swaths of Florida. As such, households, dealers and automakers could face new restrictions depending on local and state efforts to contain the virus. This is causing consumer sentiment to decline again, and it also appears the pent up demand that gave us a much stronger recovery in May and June is already waning. Government stimulus programs will likely run out and additional jobless benefits will expire during Q3 2020, and Beth Ann Bovino, U.S. chief economist at S&P Global, estimates that it will take about two years for U.S. GDP to regain its year-end 2019 level, with unemployment remaining high, consumer spending depressed, and business demand recovering only slowly. These will all pose challenges to the U.S. new vehicle market for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021.

The GMC Sierra scores the largest official year-on-year gain in the Top 35.

Top 5 automaker groups all behave similarly over the period, led once again by General Motors (-21.4%) above Ford Motor (-23.1%), Toyota Motor (-22.4%) and FCA (-25.8%). Facing shortages of key pickups and SUVs, GM said its increasing factory output “will be devoted to restocking retail channels with capacity made available by lower rental volumes.” This time American Honda (-23.8%) and Hyundai-Kia (-16.2%) leapfrog past Nissan/Mitsubishi (-38.8%) in complete perdition. It is indeed the Korean group that posts the best hold of all major automakers in H1, helped by very strong crossover deliveries throughout the crisis. Mercedes (-11.2%), VW Group (-22.5%) and Jaguar Land Rover (-23.1%) outrace the market but the BMW Group (-29.4%) isn’t that lucky.

Ford Ranger sales flare up 51.8% in 2020 so far.

Brand-wise, a stable Top 6 hides wide differences in how the Covid-19 crisis is being handled. Ford (-23.8%) matches the market but sees dark clouds forming at the horizon: according to Automotive News and in the latest sign automakers are bracing for a spotty rebound, Ford said this week customers who lease or purchase a new or used vehicle through Ford Credit —  and then lose their job within a year – can return the vehicle without paying any remaining balance up to $15.000. Desperate times call for desperate measures… Toyota (-22.6%) and Chevrolet (-19.4%) perform marginally better while Honda (-23.7%) also roughly matches the market but Nissan (-39.9%) crumble and is now threatened by Jeep (-21.2%). Hyundai (-18.2%) and Ram (-19.5%), bolstered by trending crossover and pickups respectively, both overtake former market darling Subaru (-21.3%) just as Kia (-13.6%) scores the best hold in the Top 10. Mazda (-7%) and Lincoln (-8%) are the only carmakers in the entire U.S. market to only decline by single-digits, while Mercedes (-11%), Volvo (-13.7%), Alfa Romeo (-17.7%), Tesla (-19.7%), Land Rover (-21%) and Lexus (-21.3%) also outpace the market drop. Fiat (-51.7%), Dodge (-41.9%), Lamborghini (-41.9%), Mini (-38.5%) and Buick (-35.3%) implode.

The Ford F-Series remains by far the most popular vehicle in the U.S.

The Top 5 best-selling vehicles in the U.S. all outperform the market over the First Half 2020. With countryside areas proportionately less affected by the virus, full-size pickup demand has remained strong, as illustrated by volumes by the Ford F-Series (-18.1%), the Chevrolet Silverado (+4%) posting the only year-on-year gain in the Top 10 and the Ram Pickup (-17.8%). With  the GMC Sierra (+9.7%) posting the largest official gain in the Top 35, GM full-size pickups advance 5.6% year-on-year to 373.999 and outsell the Ford F-Series over the period (367.387). In the detail, it’s the larger and more expensive variants that do the heavy lifting: the Silverado LD is up 4.1%, the HD up 1.7% and the MD up 107.3% while the Sierra LD is up 6% and the HD up 21.5%. Complete volume details are available below. Also, the Ford Ranger (+51.8%) posts the largest gain in the Top 40.

The Jeep Gladiator earns a spot among the Top 10 pickups in the U.S.

The Toyota RAV4 (-8.6%) contains its drop to single-digits contrary to its direct followers the Honda CR-V (-21.5%), Chevrolet Equinox (-28.7%) and Nissan Rogue (-39%) still however managing to slide into the Top 10. The Honda Civic (-24.4%) takes an historical 2.000 unit advantage over the Toyota Camry (-28.5%) which, if maintained until the end of the year, would put an end to the Camry’s 18 consecutive years as the best-selling car in the U.S. and mark the Civic’s very first year as #1 passenger car in the U.S. whereas it has been #1 in Canada for the past 22 straight years. As the Hyundai Palisade (+9220.9%) and Jeep Gladiator (+380.2%) cross the one year mark, the #1 new launch becomes the Mazda CX-30 (#96) above the Kia Seltos (#109), Buick Encore GX (#123), Mercedes GLB (#126), Lincoln Aviator (#140), Hyundai Venue (#164) and Chevrolet Trailblazer (#172).

Previous post: USA June 2019: Mazda (+10.9%), Volvo (+4.5%) ignore crisis, SAAR down -24.2%, fleets off -68%

One year ago: USA First Half 2019: Ram Pickup, Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Ranger headline weakest market in 5 years (-2.1%)

Full H1 2020 Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 310 models vs. Full H1 2019 figures below.

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