New York (Trends Wide Business) – New car sales plummeted in the past three months in the United States despite strong demand, as computer chip shortages and other supply chain problems led to stoppages at auto factories and hampered vehicle supply. .
General Motors reported that its sales fell a third from a year earlier in the latest quarter, and were down 40% from the same quarter in 2019, before the pandemic rocked the auto market. Sales of Stellantis, the company formed by the merger of Fiat Chrysler and the French group PSA, fell 19% from the previous year, and 27% from the period before the pandemic.
At Toyota Motor, which includes Toyota and Lexus, third-quarter sales increased 1.4% compared to the prior year. But that three-month total includes a 22% drop in September sales. (The company breaks down monthly sales figures, unlike GM and Stellantis.) Although Toyota has reported fewer supply chain disruptions than other large automakers, it has also had to cut production at some factories more recently.
So all the automakers pointed to semiconductor supply chain disruptions and historically low inventories as a problem for sales.
“While the various supply chain issues facing our industry continue to affect on-hand inventory, we know that demand for our vehicles continues to exist,” said Jeff Kommor, Stellantis US Sales Manager.
Vehicle shortages have also pushed new and used car prices to record highs for much of this year, which has also been a drag on sales, as some buyers have been shut out of the new car market. .
The auto industry has been facing a shortage of chips needed to make cars for more than a year. GM said it expects the situation to improve in the last three months of 2021, but earlier this year automakers expected things to have improved by now. Instead, GM has been forced to temporarily halt production at most of its North American plants.
“Semiconductor supply disruptions that affected our wholesale deliveries and customers in the third quarter are improving,” the nation’s largest automaker said in a statement. “Looking ahead to the fourth quarter, a steady stream of retained vehicles will continue to reach dealerships, we are restarting production at key crossover and auto plants, and we expect a more stable operating environment in the fall.”
The chip shortage began when car sales plummeted in the first weeks of the pandemic, due to record job losses and the temporary closure of many factories and dealerships. Most automakers, expecting a prolonged decline in sales, cut orders for chips and other parts. When sales rebounded much faster than expected, the supply of chips had already been directed to other customers.
Although automakers hoped to be able to increase chip supply by the middle of this year, they were hit by the COVID-19 outbreaks in other regions, such as Southeast Asia, where many of the chip factories were closed. And other supply chain problems, such as instability of shipping containers and congestion in the country’s ports, a shortage of truck drivers and a general shortage of labor, began to limit the supply of other parts and necessary raw materials.
Other automakers will report their results Monday.