Car and Truck Sales are Up for the Third Quarter, Still Lagging Year-to-Date

car dealership new stock
Sales are Up for Q3, but Still Lag 2021 Overallwelcomia - Getty Images
  • Car and truck sales are up for the third quarter, but as the industry continues to deal with parts shortages, overall sales still trail 2021 year-to-date.

  • Numbers can vary wildly, however, as sales of some models—particular EVs, like the Chevrolet Bolt EV and the Ford Mustang Mach-E—continue to rise.

  • In most cases, EV sales still make up a small percentage of overall sales.

This is what post-pandemic new auto sales looks like: Slow recovery, with some models posting sales gains, but with a shortage of chips and other parts likely to stretch beyond 2022. All the consumer and government attention on EV models results in outsized media attention, but electric-powered cars and trucks still constitute a small, niche segment.

Ford Mustang Mach-E sales rose 49% for the first three months of 2022 compared with the first three months of 2021. As its first full year, 2021 numbers were not very big. For the third quarter of 2022 alone, Mach-E sales rose 47.3%.

Still, the gas-powered Mustang continues to outsell the Mach-E. Third-quarter sales for the trad-‘Stang rose 26.6% to 3,454 units, compared with 2,324 Mach-Es. Year-to-date, Ford has sold 36,598 internal-combustion Mustangs—down 10.9%—compared with 28,089 Mach-Es—so it’s catching up. While Mach-E sales have been on a steady increase through the year, internal combustion-model sales are up in the third quarter after significant declines in the first half.

F-150 Lightning and E-Transit production clearly are in their early ramp-up stage, too. Ford sold 8760 Lightnings out of 467,307 of all F-Series year-to-date. The F-Series looks likely to retain its crown as US bestseller, even though sales are down 12.6% year-to-date.

As for the 68,333 Ford Transit vans sold, down 13.3% compared with the first three quarters of 2021, E-Transits accounted for 4387 of them.

Photo credit: Chevrolet
Photo credit: Chevrolet

At General Motors, Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV sales are up for the quarter—increasing 225.8% to 14,709 – but down 11.3% for the year so far, to 22,012 sold. GM has sold 782 GMC Hummer EVs and 36 Cadillac Lyriqs to date.

Year-to-date US sales is an estimated 10,242,511 new cars and trucks, a 12.9% drop over the first three quarters of 2021, according to Cox Automotive Industry Insights Data, which estimates Tesla sold 386,634 EVs in the US, up 63% (the EV automaker does not break out US sales from its global numbers). That amounts to an estimated year-over-year sales increase of 38.3% through the third quarter.

Retail demand looks very strong, except for Buick and Fiat, says Cox Automotive Executive Analyst Michelle Krebs. Volvo inventory is also up, with sales down, she adds.

GM and Stellantis (Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, Fiat, and Alfa Romeo) boosted sales with big increases in fleet deliveries, Krebs says. Fleet sales, including rental deliveries, were way down for the two in the first half as they gave the priority to filling retail orders after the chip shortage. Cox Automotive expects demand to soften as interest rates rise, she says, though monthly sales remain steady at 1.1 million or so, but with wild variation.

A closer look at the top 10:

1) GM: 1,650,827, down 7.1%

  • Chevrolet was down 3.9% YTD, GMC down 2.0% and Cadillac down 0.3%, but Buick sales fell 49.3%, to just 76,598 for the first three quarters. Chevy Bolt EV/EUV sales of 22,012 (-11.3%) bettered Camaro (19,177, up 27.1%) but Corvette outsold the EVs, at 25,380, up 2.6%.

2) Toyota/Lexus: 1,571,714, down 15.4%

  • Toyota division was off 15.2%, with Lexus down 16.8%. Bestseller RAV4 was off 3.2% to 303,341.

3) Ford Motor Co: 1,380,494, down 1.2%

  • Lincoln sales fell 4.6%, to 62,290, as the Ford brand dropped just 1.0% to 1,317,574. Ford delivered 51,802 Mavericks year-to-date, topping Ranger at 46,293, off 36.3%.

4) Stellantis/FCA US: 1,199,407, down 12%

  • Chrysler remains the only brand with an increase, at 87,661, up 18%, of which 75,902 were Pacifica minivans. Jeep sales were down 10%, to 541,297 and Ram was down 16%, to 415,321. Alfa Romeo sales were off 31% to 9,814, and Fiat fell 62% to 797.

5) Honda/Acura: 728,257, down 38.3%

  • Honda division was down 37.9% to 653,605, while Acura was down 41.2% to 74,652. Accord retakes the lead as Honda’s bestselling car, off 30.1% to 110,463, with the all-new Civic down 55.5% to 96,286.

6) Nissan/Infiniti: 538,338, down 31.2%

  • Nissan Group continues to be very hard-hit by shortages, though Altima sales were up 102.6% for the third quarter. Year-to-date, Altima is up 40.5% to 106,122, but Sentra is down 43.2% to 62,940 and Rogue slipped 44.5% to 130,135.

7) Hyundai: 528,298, down 10%

  • Fun fact: If Hyundai combined sales with Genesis like Nissan and Infiniti, Hyundai-Genesis would have outsold Nissan-Infiniti by 4869 units. Hyundai sold 18,492 Ioniq 5s and 26,803 Santa Cruz pickups, the latter little more than half Ford Maverick’s number.

8) Subaru 401,115, down 13.3%

  • Crosstrek is the brand’s bestseller at 115,344, up 14.1%. In the past, Subaru’s number-one has been either the Outback, off 14.3% to 105,404 or the Forester, off 40% to 79,504.

9) Tesla*: 386,634, up 63%

  • *Cox Automotive estimate. Considering this success from a premium manufacturer, it might help if Elon Musk were to tweet out these numbers himself.

10) BMW/Mini: 249,835, down 6.0%

  • X5 passed X3 to become bestseller in the U.S., at 56,603 units, up 35.5%. NOTE: Cox Automotive estimates Mercedes-Benz, including light trucks and vans, rose 2.4% to 259,679 year-to-date, but official numbers were not available at presstime.