Asian auto makers recorded November U.S. sales declines in a month that was expected to see significant industry drops because of a fluke in the calendar.
American Honda's sales dropped 23 percent. Mazda, Subaru, and Hyundai Motor America all fell more than 10 percent. Kia was down 5 percent. Toyota Motor North America, meanwhile, dipped just 1 percent. That performance could be considered a win given there were three fewer selling days last month than in November 2019. Despite that quirk, Sweden's Volvo managed a 20 percent increase.
Overall light-vehicle sales in November were projected to fall 12 percent, according to TrueCar and ALG. Ford Motor, Fiat Chrysler, American Honda, Nissan Motor, BMW Group, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen Group were expected to all record sales declines of 15 percent or more.
"It's going to look awful—like things have gone backwards pretty terribly—and that's not the case," said Tyson Jominy, vice president of data and analytics at J.D. Power.
Based on the first 17 days of the month, J.D. Power and LMC Automotive projected a 15 percent plunge in total light-vehicle sales. Adjusted for the number of selling days—three fewer than in November 2019—the drop is more like 3.5 percent, with the more lucrative retail sales slipping only 0.7 percent.
With supply limited, pricing is up. The average new-vehicle retail transaction price last month was expected to reach a record $37,099, J.D. Power and LMC projected. That's 0.9 percent higher than the previous record, set in October.
November had just 23 selling days this year—the lowest number possible in a month, and a quirk that only occurs on the calendar every five years or so—compared with 26 a year ago.
When adjusted for selling days, the market was expected to be down 3.5 percent to 7 percent. The SAAR for November was forecast to come in at 15.8 million to 16.4 million, according to estimates from Cox Automotive, J.D. Power/LMC and TrueCar/ALG down from 17 million in November 2019 and 16.38 million in October.
Auto maker results
The Toyota division was flat at 177,725, while Lexus deliveries dropped 6.8 percent to 28,040. The Toyota brand was buoyed by a 48 percent gain in hybrid sales, especially Highlander and Camry hybrids, as well as an 11 percent year-over-year increase in its pickup sales. The company's sedan- and coupe-laden lineup across its two brands continued to drag down sales comparisons, however, with sales of those vehicles falling another 2.4 percent in November, while sales of its light trucks declined just 0.4 percent.
The Honda brand's sales declined 24 percent as each of its car and light-truck models fell by double digits, except the Passport (down 5 percent). The Acura luxury brand fell 18 percent. Despite the decline in overall sales, American Honda's electrified-vehicle deliveries rose 24 percent.
The Hyundai brand's U.S. sales were down 9 percent, while retail volume fell 11 percent. However, deliveries rose 4 percent on a daily selling-rate basis, while retail was up 1 percent. Crossover volume, propped up by the Palisade and Venue, was up 9 percent. Cars fell 31 percent, but one key volume model—the Sonata—rose 39 percent to 8,242. Hyundai Motor America's luxury brand, Genesis, fell 57 percent to 935 vehicles.
At Kia Motors America, losses by a number of nameplates were partially offset by incremental volume from the Seltos crossover (5,122 deliveries). Sales of the K5 midsize sedan (7,437) outpaced the Optima it replaced by 13 percent. The Telluride crossover rose 31 percent to 8,993.
Suburu of America delivered 50,413 vehicles in November. Its top seller, the Outback, rose 3.5 percent to 12,921, and the Crosstrek was up 24 percent to 12,841. However, other volume models were down: Forester (25 percent), Ascent (31 percent) and Impreza (44 percent).
Mazda North American Operations reported an 11 percent decline to 21,752 vehicles. Sales of its cars were down 21 percent and light trucks fell 7.9 percent. It did gain some incremental volume from the CX-30, which had 2,649 deliveries compared with just 31 in November last year.
Volvo Car USA recorded its sixth straight year-over-year gain. The XC60 crossover was up 5.2 percent to 3,756 in November, topping the record it set in October. The XC40 crossover rose 67 percent to 2,344. Its large XC90 crossover dipped 0.2 percent to 3,516.