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USA May 2021: Honda and Hyundai-Kia pass Ford Motor, Kia & Mazda at record high, inventory at record low

American Honda posts a new all-time volume record this month in the U.S.

New light vehicle sales in the U.S. are estimated to bounce back up 42% year-on-year in May to 1.51 million units according to Morgan Stanley. The seasonally adjusted, annualised rate of sales (SAAR) stands at 17.1 million units, down from 18.54 million in April but vastly up from 12.08 million in May 2020. The global microchip shortage has meant production disruptions across the board and demand significantly outstripping supply. As such, inventories have continued to dwindle down, extending a one-year long trend, and the U.S. industry starts June with an average 23-day supply of vehicles which is a record low. It is down from 33-day at the start of May and 61-day at the start of June 2020. The Toyota brand even starts the month with a ghastly 8-day supply and Lexus is at 12-day. With such low inventory and strong demand, there’s no need to incentivise buyers to purchase cars, and average incentives are down drastically at -29% year-on-year from $4.174 to $2.959 according to TrueCar, and down -39% from $4.825 to $2,957 according to J.D. Power.

Five of the seven automakers still reporting sales monthly are not only up significantly year-on-year, but also on May 2019, with Ford and Subaru the only ones weaker than two years ago. Toyota Motor soars 46.7% to easily dominate the field of automakers but it’s American Honda (+46.2%) that steals the limelight, posting its highest month in history at 176.815 units. In addition, Hyundai-Kia (+66.1%) scores an even more impressive year-on-year gain whereas Ford Motor (+3.7%) had to deal with supply troubles linked to the microchip shortage and is the under-performer of the month. In May, both American Honda and Hyundai-Kia outsell Ford Motor for what is believed to be the first time in U.S. history.

63% of Ford Bronco Sport buyers come from outside the Ford brand.

Brand-wise, Toyota (+46.5%) steers away with over 212.000 units while Honda (+43.4%) passes Ford (+3.6%) thanks to light trucks setting a new all-time monthly sales record. Hyundai (+56.2%) scores its highest ever May volume at 90.017, with retail up 54% to 84.351 and fleet up 95% to 5.400. Kia surges a whopping 75.3% to 80.298 sales, celebrating a third consecutive all-time monthly record after hitting 66.523 in March and 70.177 in April, a staggering feat. Below Subaru (+8.8%) muted, Mazda soars 69.2% to 42.187 units which is a new all-time record, eclipsing a 27-year old previous best of 41.145 in March 1994. Acura (+75.5%) hits its largest volume in almost 15 years and Genesis (+176.1%) leaps to a new best-ever volume at 3.728.

Tight supply has eaten significantly into Ford F-Series sales, with the truck down a ghastly -29.2% year-on-year in May. This combined with a May record for the Honda CR-V (+45%) means the F-Series’ winning margin shrinks to just 4.170 units for the month. Given the F-Series’ weakness, it’s reasonable to expect the Chevrolet Silverado and/or Ram Pickup to top the U.S. monthly charts this month but GM or Stellantis don’t release monthly sales data anymore so we will never know. Cars are not dead just yet: the Toyota Camry (+93.4%), Corolla (+88.4%), Honda Accord (+51.4%) and Hyundai Elantra (+147.4%) post stellar gains this month while the Honda Civic (+32%) is more discreet. The Toyota Highlander (+131.2%) takes advantage of the new generation, the Mazda CX-5 (+69.6%) hits a new all-time record at 20.595 as do the Honda HR-V (+115.8%), the Kia Forte (+101.8%), Kia Sportage (+45.7%), Mazda CX-30 (+122.1%) and Mazda CX-9 (+82.1%) at 4.409. A handful of recent launches also post new record volumes, starting with the Ford Bronco Sport just under 15.000 sales. 63% of Bronco Sport buyers are new conquests, coming from outside the Ford brand, with the #1 source of sales coming from Jeep. The Kia K5 just under 12.500 sales and the Toyota Venza over 9.300 also reach new record heights.

Previous month: USA April 2021: Toyota, Honda, Hyundai and Kia break records in market above pre-pandemic levels

One year ago: USA May 2020: Decline thaws to -33% but plateauing retail, devastated fleets point to shaky recovery

Full May 2021 data for selected groups, brands and models below.

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