Automakers Share Q1 Sales: U.S. Sales Decline Across the Board; Japanese Automakers Hit Hardest

April 1, 2022
2022 Subaru Forester ranking

Auto industry analysts had predicted that US auto sales would decline by 15-18% in Q1. The supply shortage worsened in March, and the prediction was for a 36% decline in sales year-over-year. Now that March has concluded, automakers have released their performance numbers, and it’s not looking good. Here’s your one-stop resource for all automaker sales numbers for Q1 2022. Several automakers, including Ford, will release Q1 sales numbers next week. Check back for updates.

Ford sales were down 17% in Q1

The first quarter of 2022 saw worsening sales for Ford. While total sales were down 17% year-over-year, March sales dropped 26%. Ford’s brand was down 17% in Q1, however Lincoln sales fell 25%. Among popular models, the Lincoln Navigator took the greatest hit with sales plummeting 56%. Lincoln’s sales have declined for 10 consecutive months.

It wasn’t all bad news for Ford. The average transaction price rose to $47,621, up 5.5% from Q1 of 2021. Inventory rose to 268,000 at the end of March, up from 199,000 one month prior.

Ford’s EV, plug-in hybrid and hybrid sales were up 38% in the first quarter. Sales of the Mustang Mach-E were up 1.8% for the quarter, with supply chain woes and inventory being the limiting factor.

Remember that Ford recently split into two new divisions: Ford Model e and Ford Blue. Ford Blue vice president Andrew Frick said that the automaker sees a lot of positivity in the latest sales report.

“Our newest products continue to turn at a record pace, as Bronco, Bronco Sport, Mustang Mach-E and Maverick had their best combined sales performance yet, with 33,398 vehicles sold,” Frick said.

Toyota sales dropped 15 percent

The chip shortage has not been kind to Toyota. In Q1 of 2022, Toyota sold 514,592 vehicles in the United States. This is the second quarterly decline in a row for Toyota. Toyota’s sales numbers show that the chip shortage got worse as Q1 pressed on, with the worst result coming from March. Toyota’s U.S. sales dropped 24 percent in March to 194,178. 

Lexus sales brought down Toyota of North America’s overall performance. The Toyota brand was down 23% in March and down 15% for the first quarter. Lexus fared worse, with sales down 29% for March and off 13% for the quarter.

TrueCar says that Toyota’s new car incentives have been on the decline for some time. In Q1, the average incentive was $1,060 per vehicle, down 60% from Q1 of last year.

Toyota’s new car inventory sits at 120,479, which translates to a 17-day supply. March was Toyota’s eighth consecutive month of sales declines.

Nissan sales are down 30 percent

In 2021, Nissan’s U.S. sales were down 8.7% as the chip shortage worsened. Today’s Q1 2022 sales numbers show that Nissan has given up a lot of momentum. Nissan’s Q1 2022 sales were 201,081 vehicles, down 30% versus a year earlier. Between the two brands, Nissan sales dropped 29%, and Infiniti sales plummeted 41% compared to one year prior.

AutoForecast Solutions says that in North America alone, Nissan lost roughly 228,000 vehicles from production schedules in 2021 because of the chip shortage.

Nissan of North America executive Judy Wheeler told automotive news that they had underestimated the magnitude of the supply shortage in 2022. “Production will continue to get better, but I don’t think it’s going to get back to normal, frankly, until 2023,” Wheeler said. “It’s going to take longer than what we originally expected.”

Hyundai fares better and takes market share

Hyundai of North America’s U.S. sales look wonderful compared to the competition. In Q1 of 2022, Hyundai’s total U.S. sales were down 4% from a year prior. Hyundai delivered 159,676 vehicles to American consumers between January and the end of March.

Hyundai is proud of their March sales performance, with good numbers all around. According to today’s quarterly sales report, Hyundai sold 59,380 vehicles in March, resulting in the third best March retail month ever for Hyundai. Month-over-month total sales were up 13%. Hyundai electrified vehicle retail sales grew 179% year over year.

Genesis sales climbed 53 percent in March compared to March of 2021. 

Kia sales are down, but EVs see strong growth

In March, Kia delivered 59,524 new vehicles in the U.S., which is a 10.5% decrease year-over-year. For Q1, Kia sold 151,194 vehicles, which is a 5.2% decline compared to Q1 of 2021. Electrified car sales grew 55% year-over-year and reached a record level in March.

General Motors sees large declines across brands

Overall, GM’s sales were down 20% in the first quarter of 2022. GM reports that 509,108 vehicles were sold in the first three months of the year. GM’s brands all posted declines in Q1. Chevrolet declined 20%, GMC declined 7.5%, Buick was down 58%, and Cadillac sales were down 24% year-over-year. The average transaction price at GM was $50,717 in the first quarter, down 2% since Q4 2021, but up 18% year-over-year. 

Toyota surpassed General Motors in total U.S. sales by just 5,484 vehicles.

Stellantis sales down 14 percent

Stellantis (which includes Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, Fiat, Maserati, Alfa Romeo and several European brands) sold 405,221 vehicles in the first quarter of 2022. Overall, total U.S. sales for the first quarter declined 14%. 

All of Stellantis’ brands declined year-over-year.

  • Jeep’s sales dropped 2%
  • Ram was down 15%
  • Chrysler fell 27%
  • Dodge dropped 36%
  • Alfa Romeo decreased 29%

Jeep says that the Jeep Wrangler 4xe is now the best-selling plug-in vehicle in the U.S. Almost one out of every five Wranglers sold last quarter were plug-in hybrids. 

Honda sales are down 23%

In the United States, Honda’s total sales were down 23% in the first quarter YoY. American sales settled at 266,418 vehicles in Q1. Honda and Acura’s car and truck sales were down between 20% and 27% compared to last year. On the bright side, American Honda says that March was their best overall sales month since August of 2021.

Subaru sales dropped significantly in Q1

In March, Subaru sales were down 34% YoY, and Q1 sales slid 18% versus a year earlier. Subaru sold 132,346 vehicles in the first quarter. In a press release, Subaru cited the severity of the supply and chip shortage for the dismal sales numbers. Year-to-date sales of the popular Subaru Forester are down -34.3% YoY, and the Outback was down 20.6%. Sales of the Crosstrek, BRZ and Ascent were all up last quarter. 

Incentives continue to disappear, and transaction prices keep rising

Analysts at J.D. Power and LMC say that auto incentives are set to reach an all-time low of $1,044 in March, a 69% drop year-over-year. Across all brands, the average transaction price in the first quarter is expected to be $44,129, an 18% increase from Q1 of 2021.

q1 car sales incentives

YAA’s Take

It’s not looking good for automakers. The demand is certainly there, but the ongoing supply shortage just keeps dragging on. The war in Ukraine and even an earthquake have added insult to injury for automakers in 2022. It appears that several automakers are beginning to recognize the reality we live in – sales are likely to remain suppressed until 2023. It’s more important than ever to play it smart when buying a car. Be sure to join the YAA Community, where auto experts help you make smart decisions to save time, hassle, and money.

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