Third-Quarter 2021 Sales Report: How Hard Is The Chip Shortage Really Hitting Automakers?

2022 Genesis G70
As Genesis rolls out a revamped and expanded lineup, its sales have markedly improved over the third quarter of 2020. (Images: Genesis)

2021 sales for new cars and trucks have been a roller coaster — take a look at the numbers.

If you’re suffering from a serious case of broken record syndrome whenever “global chip shortage” is mentioned, trust me — you’re definitely not alone. Nevertheless, we’ve discussed how that shortage and many others have indeed left dealership lots looking empty over the past several months. As the Q3 2021 sales reports roll in, we have more information to show the scope of the problem, and give us a data point for how the industry can navigate its way clear of it as we move into 2022.

As most automakers curtailed production throughout the summer, it is hardly surprising that the last three months have been a rough patch. General Motors, Honda and Nissan — all of whom reported sales the morning of October 1 — lost some ground from a pandemic-ravaged 2020. GM, in particular, lose 33.1% of its Q3 sales figures from 2020, with the Chevrolet brand slipping some 36.5%. The 443,117 vehicles sold by GM dealers in the third quarter is the lowest quarterly result since its bankruptcy and reorganization in 2009, as Automotive News points out.

Toyota fared better than most during the chip shortage, and did not have to go to a similar extent as the Big Three to juggle its semiconductor supply. (Image: Toyota)

Not all automakers lost ground, though.

That said, looking at 2021 sales through a quarterly lens, some automakers have gained some ground from the third quarter of 2020. Hyundai and Kia increased 4% and 7.3% respectively. Both lost monthly sales in September (Hyundai dropped 1.8% last month, while Kia sales fell 4.7%), but both had a strong enough performance (and vehicle supply) in July to offset that.

Luxury brand Genesis also saw a massive 301% increase, thanks in large part to its GV70 and GV80 crossovers outselling its sedans. Toyota also gained a slight 0.4% bump to 484,912 vehicles — leading the tally against General Motors and Stellantis. For its part, Stellantis’ 410,917 deliveries represented a 19% drop over the third quarter of 2020.

Tesla also fared well in the third quarter, delivering an approximate 84,000 vehicles — a 55.3% increase over what the company managed at this point last year.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder
New models like the Nissan Pathfinder helped stem the flow, even when Nissan still lost some sales momentum during the third quarter. (Image: Nissan)

The yearly picture still looks positive

Despite the semiconductor shortage hammering Q3 figures in automakers’ 2021 sales reports, the overall year-to-date picture is still on the upswing from 2020. Most automakers are still ahead of where they were last year. Again, Genesis still managed to more than double its year-to-date sales.

Now, manufacturers are in the home stretch. The fourth quarter will bear out the long-reaching effects of this chip shortage, though we do have plenty of new launches coming into play over the coming months. We’ll cover how that all shakes out in early January.

Update: Earlier Tesla figures were incorrect. Sorry for the error!

Q3 2021 sales by brand:

BrandQ3 2021 Sales (Jul-Sept)Quarter-over-Quarter Change (%)YTD 2021 Sales (Jan-Sept)
Acura38,555-2.8%126,939 (+32.7%)
Alfa Romeo4,529-10.4%14,193 (+13.6%)
Audi41,019-14.4%162,854 (+31.2%)
BMW75,619+8.7%243,613 (+35.4%)
Buick39,299-20.1%151,010 (+27.4%)
Cadillac22,519-31.7%95,946 (+10.8%)
Chevrolet*284,045-36.5%1,137,766 (-5.9%)
Chrysler15,502-51.4%74,139 (-2.3%)
Dodge49,059-31.8%175,361 (-14.2%)
Fiat401-63.6%2,107 (-41.0%)
Ford*383,805-26.8%1,063,553 (-0.7%)
Genesis15,022+301.1%34,320 (+204.1%)
GMC*97,254-26.7%381,518 (+8.0%)
Honda*307,359-11.9%1,331,542 (-6.7%)
Hyundai178,500+4.5%585,635 (+32.1%)
Infiniti10,666-38.6%47,603 (-19.3%)
Jeep196,686-11%604,670 (+4%)
Kia177,014+7.3%555,525 (+29.7%)
Lexus81,093+7.7%238,805 (+31.1%)
Lincoln17,038-38.2%65,962 (-11.3%)
Mazda84,046+9.1%273,213 (+34.4%)
Mini6,445-28.9%22,070 (+12.7%)
Mitsubishi23,799-4.3%77,176 (+6.3%)
Nissan*188,289-7.6%735,053 (+23.1%)
Porsche15,289-1.7%51,615 (+29.9%)
Subaru141,552-16.5%462,802 (+6.0%)
Tesla**241,300+2.4%627,350 (+65.2%)
Toyota484,912+0.4%1,619,078 (+27.5%)
Volkswagen79,321-8.2%290,694 (+25.6%)
Volvo31,611+4.2%95,366 (+29.6%)
*Ford, GM, Honda, Nissan and Toyota brand sales figures include car and truck sales.
**Tesla sales figures are estimates.