Several of the top automakers reported quarterly sales Wednesday, and the weeks of pandemic-forced dealership closures hit them hard.Sales were als
“GM entered the quarter with very lean inventories and our dealers did a great job meeting customer demand, especially for pickups,” said Kurt McNeil, GM’s vice president of sales. “Now, we are refilling the pipeline by quickly and safely returning production to pre-pandemic levels.”
Despite the signs of improvement later in the quarter, it’s unlikely there will be a rapid increase in sales throughout the summer, said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for Cox Automotive. Cox is forecasting a 35% drop in total US sales for the second quarter once all the automakers report and the data are in.
A Cox survey showed one-third of those who intend to buy a car said they will delay their purchases, driven by factors such as general uncertainty in the market and continued unemployment concerns.
“The industry is facing the potential for a cruel summer for automotive sales,” Smoke said in a recent presentation.
Another auto research firm, LMC, projects a 33% drop in sales in the quarter and a 22% drop over the course of the full year.
“There is still plenty of risk ahead, with the possibility of continued outbreaks,” said Jeff Schuster, president of global vehicle forecasting for LMC, adding that some of the current sales are likely being driven by pent-up demand that could soon fall off.
“Autos are among the industries coronavirus hit hardest and the pandemic adds to what were already substantial challenges for carmakers,” a note said. “We estimate vehicle sales will slump at least 20% in 2020 and will take several years to recapture 2019 levels.”