American car sales surged in the first quarter. The COVID-19 pandemic had decimated sales, particularly from April of last year through the third quarter. Unfortunately, just as sales have rebounded, some manufacturers have had to halt production because of a shortage of semiconductors used in many cars.
The Toyota brand sold the most vehicles in America in the first quarter. The 517,017 units sold were up 18%. The brand’s success is based largely on small, fuel-efficient sedans, which makes it different from some rivals that favor larger, heavier vehicles.
The car brand with the next best sales in the first quarter was Ford, with 492,271 units sold. This was driven mostly by the best-selling vehicle in America, the full-size F-Series pickup. Ford posted a particularly strong quarter financially because of North American sales. However, CEO Jim Farley said, “The semiconductor shortage and the impact to production will get worse before it gets better.” Second-quarter production could drop by as much as 50%, he added.
The third best-selling brand in America is the largest at General Motors. Chevrolet posted unit sales of 463,913. Like the Ford brand, its best-selling vehicle is a full-size pickup, the Silverado. Also like Ford, it has followed the U.S. car buyer’s taste for crossovers, pickups and sport utility vehicles, which dominate its range of products.
Honda ranks fourth in first-quarter unit sales by car brand at 309,203. Although it has crossovers and SUVs among its models, like Toyota it also sells a large number of small cars that are inexpensive and get high gas mileage.
Brand dominance in the industry is such that moving into one of the top spots based on U.S. sales has been extremely hard. Japanese brands did it in the 1970s and 1980s. No brands have been able to since then.