Toyota US August sales fall 23% as pandemic weighs on inventory

02 September 2020 - 09:15 By Reuters
Toyota Motor Corp on Tuesday reported its fifth straight month of declines in sales in the US, in August, as demand for cars remains sluggish even after factories and dealerships reopened from coronavirus-led lockdowns.
Toyota Motor Corp on Tuesday reported its fifth straight month of declines in sales in the US, in August, as demand for cars remains sluggish even after factories and dealerships reopened from coronavirus-led lockdowns.
Image: ricochet64 / 123rf

Toyota Motor Corp on Tuesday reported a 23% drop in US new vehicle sales in August versus the same month in 2019, as a two-month industrywide shutdown of car production in the spring to halt the spread of Covid-19, as well as an uncertain economic recovery, weighed on sales.

This was Toyota's fifth straight month of US sales declines.

South Korean car maker Hyundai Motor Co said its US sales fell 8.4% in August, largely due to a decline in fleet sales to rental car companies, government agencies and corporations. Hyundai had posted a slight sales gain in July.

Car makers have struggled to get inventory to dealers to replenish stocks after the pandemic-fuelled shutdowns.

This has enabled them to scale back consumer discounts on popular models and raise vehicle prices.

According to consultancies LMC and JD Power, which had predicted industrywide US new vehicle sales to be down 20% in August, nearly 45% of vehicles sold during the month spent fewer than 20 days on dealer lots, 35 percentage points more than the previous year.

TrueCar Inc subsidiary ALG said on Tuesday that the average transaction price for vehicles was up 3.9% in August versus the same month in 2019.

While US demand for new vehicles has remained stronger than expected after driving off a cliff in March and April as a number of states shut down because of the coronavirus, there is plenty of uncertainty over whether a sustained recovery is possible.

Outbreaks of Covid-19 across southern and southwestern US states during the summer appear to have slowed the economic recovery. Unemployment remains high and could weigh further on sales moving forward.

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