This Legacy Company Is Now Top US Automaker Ahead Of Toyota: What You Should Know

Zinger Key Points
  • US vehicle sales dropped to the lowest level in over a decade in 2022 due to production constraints.
  • JD Power expects the companies to end the year with strong underlying financial results, thanks to pricing strength.

The year 2022 was tough for automakers as they had to contend with supply chain challenges and softening consumer demand.

What Happened: Industry-wide auto sales fell 8% year-over-year to 13.7 million vehicles in 2022, reported The Wall Street Journal.

This marked the lowest number since 2011. Sales have come back notably from the 17 million+ mark seen for five years that preceded the COVID-19 pandemic, the report said.

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Competitive Dynamics Shifts: General Motors Corp. GM wrested the lead from Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp. TM to become the top U.S. automaker in 2022. The company and its dealers sold 2.2 million vehicles during the year, up 3% from 2021, thereby bucking the overall market decline.

Fourth-quarter was particularly strong, as sales jumped 41% year-over-year to 623,261 units.

Second-ranked Toyota sold 2.11 million units, representing a 9.6% drop on a volume basis and a 9.9% decline on a daily selling rate basis. The Japanese vehicle maker, however, improved its performance in the fourth quarter, when unit sales and value jumped 13.1% each.

Stellantis N.V’s STLA FCA US reported sales of 1.55 million units in 2022, of which 347,669 units were sold in the fourth quarter. The annual and quarterly performances marked 13% and 16% declines, respectively. The company’s plugin hybrid vehicle sales, meanwhile, increased 26% for the year and 21% for the quarter.

Hyundai Motor Company’s HYMTF America unit said it sold 724,265 units for 2022, a 2% decrease. Quarterly sales, however, rose 29% to a record 195,967 units. Honda Motor Company’s HMC 2022 U.S. sales fell 32.9% to 983,507 units. Sales for the month of December fell 10.7% to 93,843 units.

Nissan Motor Company Limited's NSANY 2022 and fourth quarter sales fell 25.4% and 2%, respectively, to 729,350 units and 191,012 units, respectively.

Pricing Could Lift Profits: Production constraints hurt 2022 auto sales, with the sales recovery in the final five months of the year unable to mitigate the weakness seen in the first half of the year, J.D. Power said in a release in late December. The firm, however, said pricing and per-unit profitability will reach record levels in 2022 despite limited production constraining sales volume.

It forecasts that the industry will close out with strong underlying financial results.

“Looking at 2023, retail sales will continue to be dictated by the number of vehicles shipped to dealerships. Indications are that shipments will rise incrementally throughout the year, allowing sales to increase from 2022 levels,” the firm said.

Even with a potential economic downturn, pent-up consumer demand from the past two years will keep inventory levels low and lead to another year of “relative healthy pricing and profitability.”

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