- auto sales in august showed continued signs of recovery, although the august calendar included two fewer sales days compared to last year.
- toyota, hyundai, mazda, and subaru all posted declines, but suvs remain a bright spot among all of the automakers.
- industry forecasting firm alg estimates that overall august sales declined 11 percent year over year, while they were down 15 percent in july.
as the months go on since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, auto sales have recovered more and more—but headwinds still persist, keeping sales down compared to last year. toyota, hyundai, mazda, and subaru all posted sales declines in the month of august.
several factors outside of the control of automakers hurt sales results. last month, there were two fewer sales days as compared to august of 2019, and sales over labor day weekend last year fell within august, which this year will be tallied in september. as a result, for many automakers, their daily selling rate, or the number of new vehicle sales per selling day, showed a much less negative month. overall, sales in august were down 11 percent compared to last year, according to estimates from industry forecaster alg. in july, the decline was 15 percent.
regardless, tight inventory across the industry weighed heavily. toyota, lexus, and bmw all had inventories of less than 40 days—normal levels are around 60 days—and as charlie chesbrough, senior economist at cox automotive, pointed out, "obviously, you can't sell what you don't have."
toyota saw sales fall 22.7 percent this past month but saw large discrepancies between its toyota and lexus divisions. for the former, sales fell 24.6 percent, while sales for the latter were down 9.5 percent. while generally declining, sales among lexus suvs took the smallest hit among toyota's vehicles in august. as several analysts have noted, this is a trend seen throughout the industry in recent months, likely because high-income buyers have been less severely affected by the pandemic and have stayed in the market for new vehicles.
honda posted an overall sales decline of 21.9 percent, and similarly to toyota, its honda division saw sales fall 23 percent while acura had sales decline by 10.2 percent. honda's truck division kept sales from falling too dramatically.
sales at hyundai, which dropped 8.4 percent in august, were cushioned by the increasing popularity of the palisade and kona. suvs represented 67 percent of hyundai retail sales in august, an 8 percent jump from last year. the sonata showed modest declines compared to august 2019. similarly, kia saw sales fall 6.1 percent in august; its popular telluride increased in sales, and the seltos, which went on sale this year, also lessened the blow.
subaru, while declining 17.4 percent year over year, had its best month of 2020 in august. while the automaker saw sales fall across most of its lineup, forester sales were up 1.1 percent compared to last year. mazda had sales fall 5.1 percent compared to august 2019, with sales of the cx-5 and cx-9 showing the smallest declines in the lineup.