October U.S. auto sales: Toyota, Hyundai, Kia sales advance; Ford, Honda slide again

U.S. sales rose by double digits for the second straight month at Toyota Motor Corp., while deliveries at Hyundai and Kia advanced for the third straight period in October behind higher demand for electrified vehicles and healthy retail volume as the auto industry’s supply crunch slowly eases.

U.S. light-vehicle deliveries rose last month from October 2021 levels as inventory slowly improves and demand remains steady — even amid rising interest rates, gasoline prices and new-vehicle MSRPs that are putting extra pressure on affordability. LMC Automotive said light-vehicle sales grew by 11 percent to 1.17 million in October, the best month since April, and are now off 10.9 percent for the year.

The seasonally adjusted annualized rate of sales in October came in at 14.9 million vehicles, Baird said, topping the range of analysts’ estimates — 13.4 million to 14.7 million. That is up sharply from the October 2021 rate of 13.21 million vehicles. The seasonally adjusted annual rate, which tallied 13.67 in September, has remained below 15 million vehicles since July 2021, except for January 2022 when it came in at 15.23 million.

Toyota’s October volume rose 28 percent behind a 33 percent increase at the Toyota division, with big gains at the brand’s top sellers — Camry, up 68 percent, RAV4, up 40 percent, and Tacoma, up 44 percent.

U.S. sales of the Corolla Cross, introduced a year ago, tallied 7,419 vehicles, up from 826 a year earlier. Corolla volume nearly doubled to 16,663 vehicles last month while Prius deliveries rose 37 percent. Lexus sales dropped for the ninth straight month, with October volume down 3.7 percent on tight inventories.

Toyota said it ended October with just a 20-day supply of vehicles, 143,761 cars and light trucks, with 26,976 in dealer stock and 116,785 in port or transit. The Toyota division has 125,232 vehicles in stock, a 20-day supply, while Lexus has a 22-day supply with 18,529 vehicles.

General Motors was the top-selling automaker in October, edging Toyota by around 14,000 units, LMC said.

Ford Motor Co., limited by parts shortages that continue to undermine output, reported a 10 percent drop in volume with some of its biggest sellers racking up double-digit declines. This marks the company’s second straight monthly decline. Volume fell 9.9 percent at the Ford division and 14 percent at Lincoln.

F-Series truck deliveries slid 17 percent, Explorer sales dropped 23 percent and Escape volume fell 26 percent last month, while demand for newer models such as the Bronco, Mustang Mach-E and Maverick remains robust. The Maverick, with 2022 sales of 61,035 pickups, including 9,233 last month, has become Ford’s No. 2-selling truck, well ahead of the Ranger. 

Ford said it continues to see record demand for 2023 model year vehicles, with retail orders rising 134 percent over 2022 model year vehicles at the same time last year. Overall, orders for 2023 model year vehicles total 255,000, Ford said Wednesday, with about 50 percent of retail sales coming from previously placed orders for the seventh straight month.

Ford’s gross inventories, in dealer stock and in transit, continue to rebound — hitting 346,000 at the end of October, up from nearly 311,000 at the end of September and nearly 240,000 at the close of October 2021. The company said more than half of its gross stockpiles remain in transit, reflecting longer shipping times that continue to hamper the industry.

Honda Motor Co. said supply and shipping bottlenecks continue to undermine output and inventory, with October sales dropping 16 percent to 81,545 vehicles. Volume dropped 17 percent at the Honda division and 9.1 percent at Acura.

Volume has now skidded 15 straight months at Honda and 14 consecutive months at Acura. The Honda division’s most popular models all racked up double-digit declines in October — Accord, off 24 percent, Civic, down 15 percent, CR-V, off 19 percent and HR-V, down 36 percent.

Lance Woelfer, head of U.S. sales for Honda, told dealers in a memo dated Oct. 28 that the company’s fourth-quarter production will run at 75 percent capacity, lower than anticipated, because of parts shortages and other shipping and logistics challenges. As a result, some dealer allocations in November and December may slide into early 2023, he said. Honda started October with about 18,000 units in inventory and ended the month with about 30,400, the memo said, according to dealers, with another 289,000 units in the pipeline.

Earlier, Honda advised dealers that U.S. inventories will not return to normal levels until around October 2023.

“Supply and transportation issues have challenged the entire industry and remain a fluid situation,” a Honda spokesman said Tuesday. “Our sales, purchasing and production teams continue working hard to limit the impact of these supply issues to meet the needs of our customers, and we do not see our production declining from current levels.” 

Volume advanced 6.8 percent at Hyundai and 12 percent at Kia to 58,276 vehicles, an October record, the companies said Tuesday.

Retail deliveries increased 11 percent to 58,315 vehicles in October, Hyundai said. The company is prioritizing more profitable retail business amid tight inventories; fleet shipments total just 0.4 percent of sales year-to-date.

“Demand is still there and our lineup of EV vehicles contributed to record sales this month,” Randy Parker, CEO of Hyundai Motor America, said in a statement.

Hyundai said it ended October with 31,529 cars and light trucks in inventory, up from 24,919 at the end of September and 19,894 at the close of October 2021. Prior to the pandemic, the company’s U.S. inventories typically stood at 150,000 to 170,000; inventories fell to around 60,000 to start 2021.

With inventories rising incrementally across the industry and some consumers turning more skittish, Parker said Hyundai expects the market to become “more competitive” as year-end sales and holiday promotions unfold. Hyundai, with some of the industry’s lowest incentives, is launching its holiday sales promotions effective Tuesday, he added.

At Kia, electrified vehicle sales rose 101 percent. Four models posted double-digit increases — Seltos, up 37 percent, Forte, up 19 percent, Sorento, up 18 percent, and Niro, up 16 percent.

Subaru racked up its biggest gain, 32 percent in October, since April 2021, with its 2022 top seller, the Crosstrek, notching sales of 13,635 vehicles, up 29 percent.

While Subaru of America said it continues to face supply bottlenecks, Jeff Walters, senior vice president of sales for the automaker, said the company expects to “see continued strength in demand during the holiday season.”


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