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USA March 2021: Market bounces back up 60%, Toyota #1 brand over Q1

The new Sienna helps Toyota sales over Q1.

New light vehicle sales in the U.S. rally back up in March on year-ago volumes severely impacted by Covid-19 lockdowns: sales are estimated to soar roughly 60% year-on-year to 1.6 million units, equivalent to the March 2019 volume. This means the U.S. market has returned to pre-pandemic levels thanks to government stimulus and economic recovery, just as more people get vaccinated and start travelling again. Yet the vehicle market recovery was stronger than expected in March, with the Seasonally Adjusted Annualised sales Rate (SAAR) standing at 18.08 million according to Motor Intelligence vs. just 15.88 million last month and 11.37 million in March 2020. This despite a shortage of semi-conductors that has forced some carmakers to idle factories and restrained stock availability, notably in the pickup segment. As a result of this March bounce back, the Q1 volume is tilts into positive at +11.8% and 3.923.746 sales.

In March and among the manufacturers still communicating monthly results, Toyota Motor soars 87%, Ford Motor is up 62.7%, American Honda up 92.5% and Hyundai-Kia up 97.1%. Brand-wise, Genesis (+210.2%), Hyundai (+159.5%), Acura (+153.4%), Lexus (+112.9%), Mazda (+104.2%) and Subaru (+101.5%) all more than double their sales year-on-year. Honda is up 86.4%, Toyota up 83.6%, Volvo up 80.9% and Ford up 63.2%. Only Kia (+46.5%) and Lincoln (+53.7%) trail the market. Model-wise, the Ford F-Series (+34.2%) almost halves the market growth whereas the Toyota RAV4 (+89.3%) and Honda CR-V (+123.3%) are in great shape. Other March spectacular gainers include, in volume order, the Toyota Highlander (+161.4%), Subaru Forester (+123.1%), Hyundai Tucson (+159.2%) and Subaru Crosstrek (+175.9%), Lexus RX (+134%), Toyota Sienna (+272.8%) and Honda HR-V (+202.5%).

Over the first Quarter of 2021, overall volumes are up 11.8% and the clear winner is Toyota Motor, up a fantastic 21.6% to tease General Motors (+3.7%) rather shy in comparison. 36.000 sales separate the two groups so far this year vs. over 120.000 a year ago. Ford Motor (+0.6%) and Stellantis (+5.1%) can’t keep up with the market growth but below, American Honda (+16.2%) and Hyundai-Kia (+22.8%) deliver strong results. Nissan Motor (+7%) is weaker but still manages a year-on-year gain, while the VW Group (+27.1%) scores a sturdy gain as does the BMW Group (+20.1%). 

Brand-wise, Toyota (+20.3%) topples Ford (+0.7%) to take the overall lead in Q1, whereas Chevrolet (-2.4%) underperforms with the only year-on-year decline in the Top 15. Honda (+14.4%) and Nissan (+14.8%) both gain share ahead of Jeep (+8.1%) just as the remainder of the Top 10 all fare better than the market, starting with Hyundai (+27.7%) then Subaru (+22.8%), Ram (+16%) and Kia (+15.7%). Below, Genesis (+107.9%), Porsche (+44.7%), Volvo (+39.8%), Buick (+35.2%), Acura (+32.8%), Chrysler (+31.9%), Lexus (+31.8%) and Tesla (+25%) all secure fantastic year-on-year gains over Q1.

Over in the models ranking, the Ford F-Series (+9.2%) leads as usual, albeit progressing slightly slower than the market, and ends the period above the symbolic 200.000-unit mark. The Ram Pickup (+15.6%) reclaims the 2nd spot off the Chevrolet Silverado (-12.5%) in difficulty. The Toyota RAV4 (+17%) remains the best-selling SUV in the country but the Honda CR-V (+31.7%) is catching up, so is the Nissan Rogue (+45.2%) making the entire Top 6 solely composed of light trucks. The Toyota Camry (+1.2%) only edges up to retain the passenger car crown at #7 ahead of the Toyota Corolla (+4.8%) at #8. The Toyota Tacoma (+23.9%) steps up one spot on its FY2020 ranking to #9 just as the Ford Explorer (+15.9%) closes out the Top 10 vs. #13 over FY2020. Just below, the Toyota Highlander (+33.3%) makes a strong push and could break into the YTD Top 10 in the coming months. The Chevrolet Trailblazer (#40) is the best-selling recent launch (<12 months) above the Ford Bronco Sport (#45) and Kia K5 (#58).

Previous month: USA February 2021: Genesis, Volvo ignore market down -10%

One year ago: USA March 2020: Sales tumble -39% under Covid pressure

March 2021 data for selected groups, brands and models and Full Q1 2021 data for Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 300 models below.

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