A pair of industry forecasters think Toyota Motor North America sustained the not "sustainable" and will beat General Motors in U.S. sales for a second consecutive quarter as microchip and other supply shortages wreak havoc on traditional market shares.
Most automakers are expected to announce their September and third-quarter sales Friday.
Edmunds and TrueCar predict that the industry will report a substantial drop in the quarter, as dwindling inventory hindered sales. The two forecasters expect that Toyota will once again top GM, as it weathered the supplier storm for at least part of the third quarter better than its Detroit competitor.
For September, Edmunds projects the seasonally adjusted, annualized selling rate will be 12.3 million, while TrueCar expects it to be 12.2 million. The SAAR in August was 13.09 million; in September last year, it was 16.5 million.
Edmunds' forecast puts Toyota's third-quarter sales at 563,089, which would be a slight gain from the same period in 2020 but off 18 percent from its second-quarter volume. It sees GM dropping to 456,031, a 32 percent decline from a year earlier and off 34 percent from the second quarter. Overall, Edmunds believes industry sales will decline 13 percent in the third quarter to 3.4 million vehicles, with only Hyundai/Kia (plus 10 percent), Volkswagen Group (plus 2.6 percent) and Toyota (plus 0.8 percent) able to eke out a gain. Edmunds also sees Ford and Stellantis taking double-digit sales hits in the quarter.
Similarly, TrueCar forecasts Toyota's third-quarter sales will be up 2.5 percent to 572,658 to take the industry's top spot in the U.S., with GM sales falling more than 200,000 in the quarter to 441,307. TrueCar's projections see industry sales off 15 percent from a year earlier to 3.03 million and down 23 percent from the second quarter.
Toyota continues to report its sales monthly, while GM is among those automakers that only report sales quarterly.
Toyota topped GM in sales in the U.S. for the first time in second quarter, as it relied heavily on its supplier relations to keep factories running amid worsening COVID-19 conditions.
At the time, Bob Carter, head of sales for Toyota Motor North America, said the unprecedented feat was not "sustainable" for the company over the long term. In August, Toyota began announcing large cuts to its global production as the pandemic shut down supplier factories in Asia, and it subsequently continued those cuts further.
"New vehicle sales in the third quarter have been a direct reflection of the worsening chipset and inventory situation. Although consumer demand continues to run high, sales have continued to slide downward each month because there simply aren't enough of the vehicles that shoppers want," Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds' executive director of insights, said in a written statement.
"The entire U.S. auto industry — including the Asian manufacturers, which were doing a bit better than their domestic counterparts until recently — is in an incredibly volatile position right now and we are seeing inflated retail prices across the board.
"It's growing extraordinarily hard to predict who will come out on top heading into the rest of the year, as every automaker is at the mercy of its suppliers and challenged logistics around the globe."