- Even as supply chain problems continue to wreak havoc on the industry, some automakers posted positive numbers for August.
- Ford fared well (up 27.5% year-over-year), as did Kia (up 22.4%).
- Others, however, lost substantial ground for the month, including Acura (down 47.3%) and Lexus (down 20.1%)
- On the whole, though, the numbers show a slight 1.8% drop for August — a sign of some potential rebound when quarterly reports come out in October.
Strong sales for both new models and more affordable cars bolstered automakers’ gains in August, at least for some.
Most folks out there shopping for a new car right now will probably agree that it is still a headache. As the industry continues to grapple with supply problems and strong demand, August is another “wait and see” month, as the automakers who do report monthly sales publish their numbers. Will we see a rebound, or will the picture look as bleak as we’ve seen through many of the past several reports?
As it turns out, the answer is a bit of both. Some automakers were up considerably — namely Ford, Hyundai and Kia. Others, though, like Honda and Volvo, lost considerable ground for the month compared to the same period in August 2021.
August 2023 sales breakdown, by brand:
|Brand||August 2022 sales||August 2021 sales||Difference (%)|
** Automakers not shown here (e.g. General Motors, Stellantis, Tesla) report sales quarterly. We will have those numbers in early October.
Some standouts in August’s sales reports
While you’d expect hot models like the Ford Bronco and Hyundai Santa Cruz to walk off dealer lots — and they have — more affordable cars also seem to be a strong driver of monthly sales. For reference, Bronco sales increased by 267.5% in August (showing they’re actually making it out to customers now). The Santa Cruz, for its part, picked up by 132% from August 2021.
At least, that’s the case with Hyundai, which saw sales across most of its model range pickup, including the entry-level Accent sedan (up 104%) and Venue crossover (up 67%). And while you’d probably attribute that to fleet sales (that was my first thought), the automaker reported that it had no fleet sales in August 2022. So, these numbers actually reflect retail customers.
It makes some sense, in that light. With gas prices at record highs this summer and an appetite for inexpensive cars, those models have done well. You may also find some sweeter deals with the Accent and indeed the Ford EcoSport (up 36%), as both won’t live past the 2022 model year. While I hesitate to make a direct correlation there, it seems that dealers are both enticing buyers to take these cars to clear out stock and possibly finding more demand from people looking to shop at the more affordable end of the market.
More evidence of affordable cars’ popularity
Kia, Hyundai Motor Company’s sister brand, shows a similar story. The diminutive Rio and Forte both substantially improved through August. All the brand’s crossovers, from the entry-level Seltos through the Sportage, Sorento and Telluride, all saw their sales improve. The Seltos and Sorento, in particular, saw their sales more than double from August 2021.
Interestingly, Subaru sales have been rock solid throughout 2022, with August being the brand’s best month yet this year. Their Ascent climbed in the sales charts, with its sales up 4.1% in August. The new BRZ, the WRX (up 5% in August 2022) have also proven popular, but the small (and once again, affordable) Crosstrek saw its sales explode by 30.5%. The Impreza also did well, increasing by 168% in August.
What’s going on with Honda?
Among the companies that reported for August, Honda took the most impactful gut punch in the monthly sales charts. Brand sales were down 47.4%, and its Acura luxury division fared even worse. Acura’s sales for August 2022 were down by 47.3%. The automaker notes a high “turn rate”, where dealer inventory supply remains in single digits. The demand is certainly there, but supply issues constrain the company’s production lines to actually get stock out to dealers in the necessary numbers.
We get a clearer picture drilling down into sales by model. The just-redesigned Honda Civic, a staple of the automaker’s lineup, saw its monthly sales drop by a staggering 62.7% in August. The Passport and Pilot crossovers still lost ground at around 24% each, but their sales (naturally, being crossovers) fared significantly better. Strangely, the Ridgeline pickup was the only Honda model to actually gain sales, and not just slightly. Deliveries for the crossover-based truck picked up by 199.5%, with dealers shifting some 4,381 examples last month.
While both Honda and Acura have fresh models in their lineup, from the Civic to the HR-V and the MDX to the Integra, it may be a few months before it can hammer out production woes to turn around its sliding sales.
Of course, that problem expands far beyond any one automaker. Other manufacturers that lost ground like Toyota, Lexus, Mazda and Volvo, are also juggling what resources they have to get popular and high-margin vehicles out to customers.