Toyota Motor Corp., American Honda, Hyundai, Subaru, Kia and Mazda, behind light trucks and robust retail demand, posted sharply higher U.S. light-vehicle sales last month compared with April 2020, when the market bottomed out early in the pandemic, with showrooms and factory floors mostly shuttered.
And in the latest sign the market continues to run hot, fueled by stimulus outlays while mostly avoiding the impact of falling inventories from tight chip supplies, the seasonally adjusted, annualized rate of sales for April was 18.5 million -- well above forecasts and a high for the month -- Motor Intelligence reported.
April marked the second month in a row the SAAR has topped 18 million.
Overall, industry sales rose 110 percent last month, analysts said. After April's record results, "the question now turns to whether we potentially run out of cars?," Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said in a report Tuesday, noting industry supplies hit a low of 33 days.
April volume jumped 183 percent to 239,311 at Toyota Motor, with the Toyota brand up 183 percent to 212,283 and Lexus advancing 177 percent to 27,028 -- April records for all three. The Toyota division said car, crossover and SUV deliveries more than tripled last month, with sales of the Highlander more than quadrupling to 27,679.
But Toyota Motor said U.S. car and light-truck inventories dropped to 205,285 at the end of last month, down 21 percent from March and 46 percent from April 2020, with the Toyota division beginning May with just a 19-day supply of light trucks.
Ford Motor Co. deliveries rose 65 percent, with SUV and crossover volume more than doubling and pickups rising 48 percent, while car demand skidded 21 percent with the discontinuation of every sedan. Sales at the Ford division rose 63 percent and Lincoln rose 115 percent, with combined retail deliveries at the two brands up 57 percent.
Ford said it ended April with gross stock of 265,000 light vehicles, or a 35-day supply, and warned inventory could drop by another 10 days.
April deliveries rebounded 171 percent at American Honda, the company said Monday, with volume jumping 165 percent at Honda and 226 percent at Acura. American Honda said record monthly light-truck demand at the Honda and Acura brands -- 98,828 units -- and a 125 percent increase in car deliveries helped it set an April sales record of 156,482.
The Honda brand also posted its best April ever on volume of 140,023. Among the Honda brand's light trucks, the HR-V and Passport set monthly records, and CR-V and Pilot hit April highs.
Subaru also set an April sales record with 61,389 deliveries, a gain of 101 percent. But Jeff Walters, senior vice president of sales for Subaru of America, warned the company's future results "will be influenced by vehicle availability due to the well-documented chip shortages impacting production throughout the auto industry.”