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USA August 2021: Market sinks -17%, Acura, Mazda, Volvo, Lexus up

Mazda sales are up 4.6% in a market down -17%.

August is the month the microchip and parts shortage and associated idling of numerous local factories finally took their toll on the U.S. new light vehicle market. It is estimated by Morgan Stanley at 1.095 million sales, a vertiginous -17% year-on-year drop. The year-to-date tally is now up 19% to 10.690.000, and given the supply situation isn’t likely to improve much in the coming months, LMC Automotive has lowered its Full Year 2021 forecast from 16.9 million to 15.7 million in the space of a month. According to Motor Intelligence, the Seasonally Adjusted Annualised Rate of sales (SAAR) is down to 13.09 million, the lowest figure since June 2020 (13.23 million), to be compared with 18.5 million last April and 15.18 million in August 2020.

Relatively strong demand and short supply means carmakers are less likely to offer generous incentives According to J.D. Power, the average incentive per new light vehicle is off -54% year-on-year to $1.823 vs. $3.955 a year ago, while TrueCar has it at $2.432, down 39% year-on-year. The manufacturers lowering their average incentives most dramatically are Nissan (-50%), Ford (-45%), Kia (-45%), GM (-39%), Hyundai (-39%), Stellantis (-38%) and the VW Group (-38%), while at the other end of the scale we have Honda (-26%), BMW (-27%), Daimler (-29%), Toyota (-34%) and Subaru (-36%). Much lower incentives mean higher transaction prices, up 5.9% year-on-year in August to $38.520 according to TrueCar. Daimler (+13%), Ford (+13%), Stellantis (+12%) and Nissan (+11%) increase their pricing the most while BMW (+1.1%), Toyota (+2.8%), the VW Group (+3.1%), Subaru (+4.1%), Honda (+4.8%) and Kia (+5.8%) show the smallest upticks.

Group-wise, Toyota Motor (-2%) just dips into negative to remain easily ahead of all reporting manufacturers (7 OEMs) and sports a 42.7% lift year-to-date. Ford Motor (-33.2%) takes the hardest hit in market but returns above Hyundai-Kia (-1.3%) and American Honda (-15.6%). Looking at reporting brands, Toyota (-2.4%) is in the lead as well ahead of Ford (-32.7%) and Honda (-17.9%) both in difficulty. Hyundai (-3.7%) and Kia (-5.3%) manage to keep their losses to the single digits, unlike Subaru (-14.7%) and Lincoln (-44.3%). Despite the gloomy context, some carmakers do manage a year-on-year gain, such as – in order of sales – Mazda (+4.6%), Lexus (+0.5%), Acura (+4.7%) and Volvo (+3.1%) posting a 15th consecutive month of gains. Finally Genesis (+265.8%) is up almost 4-fold thanks to two new SUVs.

Looking at models with available August data, the blockbusters bite the dust: the Ford F-Series (-22.5%), Toyota RAV4 (-24.4%) and Honda CR-V (-18.8%) all fall faster than the market, unlike the Toyota Camry (-3.1%). The Toyota Corolla (+15.6%) impresses with a rare double-digit gain in this SUV-centric era. Among the 10 best-selling vehicles with August data, the Mazda CX-5 (+11.5%) also manages a sturdy uptick. Further down, notable performers include, in sales order, the Toyota 4Runner (+34%), Subaru Crosstrek (+12.2%), Hyundai Elantra (+19.8%), Honda HR-V (+21.2%), Kia Forte (+10%), Toyota Sienna (+119.8%), Kia K5 (+100%) and Lexus NX (+43.8%). The Ford Bronco Sport is the best-selling recent launch with 6.698 sales, distancing the Ford Bronco (2.730) while the Hyundai Santa Cruz is up to 1.252.

Previous month: USA July 2021: Parts shortage slows recovery (+5%), Toyota smiles, Ford cries

One year ago: USA August 2020: Economic uncertainty, low inventories hold volume down -20%, Volvo (+12.9%) only gainer 

Full August 2021 sales for selected groups, brands and models below.

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