The seasonally adjusted U.S. auto sales rate fell to 14.15 million in February, down from 15.2 million in January but still ahead of the rates posted for the last five months of 2021, according to figures released Wednesday by Motor Intelligence.
The closely watched monthly results fell in line with analysts' SAAR estimates that ranged from 14.1 million to 14.4 million. Industry experts have expected continued weak sales results as the industry grapples with low inventories caused by the global microchip shortage and various supply chain interruptions.
Among the automakers that reported February results — including Ford Motor Co., Hyundai Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. — deliveries fell 12 percent to 559,549 vehicles, according to the Automotive News Research & Data Center. The results are incomplete because several other automakers, such as General Motors, Stellantis and Volkswagen, only report quarterly results.
Here's a recap of results from companies that reported this week.
Ford Motor Co. sales fell 21 percent in February. That includes a 21 percent drop at the Ford division and 23 percent decline at Lincoln.
Sales of its all-important F-Series pickup line plummeted 30 percent as most of its nameplates posted year-over-year declines.
The automaker said it took in more than 72,000 new retail orders in February and that 33 percent of its sales last month came from those who had placed previous orders.
“Our new products are conquesting from competitors at a rate that is 26 percentage points higher than Ford overall, including Maverick, Mustang Mach-E, Bronco and Bronco Sport,” Andrew Frick, vice president, Ford Sales U.S. and Canada, said in a statement.
Toyota drops 11%
Toyota Motor North America on Tuesday said February U.S. light vehicle sales fell 11 percent to 162,587. Sales for the Toyota brand fell 12 percent, while sales for Lexus were off 5.6 percent.
Car sales plummeted 30 percent, while pickup sales fell 13 percent, despite a 16 percent gain in Tundra sales.
The Toyota brand’s crossover and SUV sales rose 3.7 percent, largely based on a strong performance by the Highlander. Lexus-branded crossover and SUV sales fell 3.7 percent.
Electrified vehicle sales dropped 13 percent.
Toyota Motor's inventory stood at 110,674 vehicles -- a 16-day supply -- at the end of February, down from 123,686 a month ago.
It had 93,307 Toyota-brand vehicles, down from 103,634 a month ago. It also reported inventory of 17,367 Lexus-brand vehicles, down from 20,052 a month ago.
Honda deliveries plunge
American Honda’s U.S. light vehicle sales fell 21 percent amid inventory struggles brought on by the chip shortage and winter storms. Those figures include a 21 percent slide at the Honda division and 20 percent drop at Acura.
At Honda, only the Accord sedan and HR-V crossover posted sales gains compared with the same period a month ago. The HR-V’s 13,340 sales in February marked the nameplate’s 13th-consecutive monthly record, Honda said in a statement.
The automaker said 60 percent of vehicles en route to dealers are pre-sold, a sign of continued strong demand.
Mazda posts 8.3% gain
Mazda North America reported an 8.3 percent increase in sales last month with 28,166 vehicles delivered. That marked the automaker’s second-best February U.S. sales performance.
Mazda’s gains were largely driven by its crossovers, including a 36 percent sales increase for the CX-5, its highest-volume nameplate, and a 21 percent increase for the CX-9. Both vehicles posted best-ever February results
Mazda’s car sales, however, fell 32 percent.
The automaker said CPO sales also fell 32 percent compared with the same period a year ago to 3,562.
Korean brands post robust results
Korean affiliates Hyundai, Kia and Genesis reported robust U.S. deliveries for February despite ongoing retail headwinds that triggered lower forecasts as automakers struggle to rebuild depleted inventories.
Those headwinds, caused by production cuts stemming from the ongoing semiconductor shortage, didn't prevent Hyundai from recording an 8 percent gain in U.S. deliveries to 52,424. Sales of the Tucson compact crossover led the way, soaring 37 percent to 12,928 units. The new Ioniq 5 EV generated 2,555 deliveries.
“Our recent marketing efforts with Tucson and Ioniq 5 have worked well to generate awareness in competitive segments,” said Randy Parker, senior vice president of national sales for Hyundai Motor America. “We intend to keep the momentum and market share gains going.”
Hyundai noted it didn't record any fleet sales. The automaker said U.S. inventories stood at 18,621 units at the end of the month compared with 18,060 at the end of January.
Affiliate Kia posted a 2.3 percent gain to 49,182 deliveries in February as EV sales grew.
“Kia continues to outpace the industry and ‘charge ahead’ with the shift toward electrified vehicles as sales of our range of electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid models continued to break records and now make up 13-percent of our sales,” Eric Watson, vice president of sales operations for Kia America, said in a statement.
“With first-month sales of the all-electric Kia EV6 exceeding 2,100 units we are confident that even more consumers considering their own shift to electrified vehicles will now consider Kia.”
Luxury brand Genesis said it generated its best February results ever as deliveries rose 45 percent to 3,482 vehicles.
Before the results came in this week, deliveries of new vehicles in February were estimated to fall 10 to 11 percent from a year earlier, according to forecasts from Cox Automotive, TrueCar, J.D. Power and LMC Automotive. Retail sales are projected to drop 5.7 percent from February 2021 to 922,100, J.D. Power and LMC said.
February is traditionally one of the year's slower sales months even when inventory is plentiful. But a lack of chips has left little to choose from on dealership lots, and industry experts don't anticipate that will change anytime soon.
"With retail inventory on pace to finish a fourth consecutive month below 900,000 units and ninth consecutive month below one million units, the new-vehicle supply situation is not displaying signs of near-term improvement," Thomas King, president of the data and analytics division at J.D. Power, said in a statement. "Therefore, sales in February are being determined by the number of vehicles delivered to dealerships rather than reflecting actual consumer demand."