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Chip shortages put big dent in automakers’ US sales

Chip shortages put big dent in automakers’ US sales
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Chip shortages put big dent in automakers’ US sales

Chip shortages put big dent in automakers’ US sales

Four of the largest sellers of cars and trucks in the United States said on Friday that their sales had fallen recently, reflecting a sharp squeeze on auto production as a global semiconductor shortage.

General Motors, Honda, Nissan and Stelantis reported significant sales declines in the three months ended September — in GM’s case, a third drop from a year earlier — as chip shortages forced them to idle plants. Forced, dealers left with few vehicles to present to customers.

Toyota had a slight increase in the quarter, but its sales fell sharply in September, as chip shortages and other disruptions in its parts supply forced it to reduce global production, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. was born.

“We are in unknown waters,” said Alan Haig, president of Haig Partners, an automotive consultant. “We have never seen a vehicle shortage like this. There aren’t enough cars to sell.”

The semiconductor shortage stems from the start of the pandemic, when automakers around the world closed factories for weeks and abruptly cut their orders for computer chips. At the same time, manufacturers of laptops, game consoles and other electronics were demanding more chips as sales of their products began to spread among domestic consumers.

When automakers resumed production, chip makers had little production capacity to allocate for automotive chips.

Strong auto sales, driven in part by government stimulus checks, helped boost consumer spending during the first year of the pandemic. But now production delays and dwindling inventory are hurting sales when government support is waning and the rise of the delta version of the coronavirus is acting as a drag on consumer spending.

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Forecasting firm IHS Markit on Friday lowered its forecast for third-quarter consumer spending growth to just 0.4 percent, down from 12 percent in the second quarter, contributing to a sharp slowdown in overall economic growth.

Automakers have tried to use electronic components in stock for their most profitable vehicles, such as pickup trucks and large sport utility vehicles. But those models have also been affected in recent months.

With fewer vehicles rolling off the assembly line, dealers’ inventory has skimped. On Friday, Kenosha Toyota in Wisconsin had a new vehicle for sale — a two-wheel-drive Tacoma pickup. Suburban Chevrolet of Ann Arbor in Michigan was displaying just 11 new models for sale on its website.

Despite the shortage, automakers and dealers alike are making huge profits as tight inventory has forced consumers to pay higher prices. JD Power estimates that the average selling price of a new vehicle in September was $42,802, up over $12,000 from the same month in 2020.

“Despite the lack of inventory, this is a bonus for dealers and factories,” said Mr. Haig.

With the reduction of new cars, the prices of old cars have also increased. And the latest sales figures raise concerns that inventory shortages are worsening and sales are falling.

“There are not enough vehicles available to meet consumer demand,” said Thomas King, president of JD Power’s data and analytics division.

General Motors sales were down 33 per cent in the quarter. The automaker sold 446,997 vehicles, compared to 665,192 light trucks and cars a year ago. GM sold 738,638 in the same quarter of 2019.

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Honda’s sales declined 11 per cent in the quarter to 354,914 cars and trucks. But a fall of about 25 per cent in September from the previous year showed increasing pressure on production. Stelantis, which was created from the merger of Fiat Chrysler and France’s Peugeot, reported a 19 percent decline in third-quarter sales. At Nissan, the decline was 10 percent.

Toyota said its sales in the quarter were 566,005, about 1 percent higher than a year ago. But its sales were down 22 per cent in September.

General Motors does not report monthly sales figures. Ford is expected to report its third quarter sales on Monday.

Shortage of semiconductors has forced manufacturers to deactivate plants within a week. GM idled several pickup truck plants for parts of August and September. Toyota cut global production by 40 percent in September, and expects a similar cut in October.

General Motors insisted that the lack of potential buyers was not the problem. “The underlying demand position remains strong, thanks to substantial job openings, increased vehicle demand and additional savings accumulated in many households during the pandemic,” said Ellen Buckberg, GM’s chief economist, in a company statement.

And the company indicated that chip supplies are improving. “We anticipate a more stable operating environment through the fall,” said GM North America president Steve Carlisle.

At the end of September, GM had 128,757 vehicles in dealer inventory, down from 211,974 at the end of June and more than 334,000 at the end of the first quarter. In previous years, this figure was often around 800,000.

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Toyota had 37,516 vehicles in dealer lots at the end of the quarter, and 61,208 at ports serving the US market. At current sales rates, this is enough to last for about 18 days.

Ben Castleman Contributed reporting.

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