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Resilient Demand and Improved Supplies Drive Surge in U.S. Auto Sales for Q3 2023

Global automakers reported a notable increase in U.S. new vehicle sales for the third quarter, driven by robust demand for the latest models and improved supplies. This article delves deeper into the performance of major automakers and the factors contributing to their sales growth.

General Motors (GM) stands out with an impressive 21% rise in U.S. sales, reaching 674,336 vehicles. This strong performance is attributed to the high demand for GM’s pickup trucks, affordable crossover SUVs, and electric vehicles (EVs). Notably, EV sales saw a remarkable 28% jump in the third quarter compared to the preceding quarter.

Overall, September recorded U.S. new vehicle sales of 1.33 million units, with an annual sales rate of 15.67 million units, according to data from Wards Intelligence. This robust performance is even more notable considering the ongoing coordinated strike by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union against the Detroit Three automakers. The strike has raised concerns about potential supply disruptions in the current quarter.

Interestingly, the sales in September received a boost from inventory built up in anticipation of the strike. General Motors reported having 442,586 vehicles in inventory, although it did not explicitly address the impact of the strike. It’s worth noting that a 40-day UAW walkout in 2019 led to a 6% decline in sales in the fourth quarter of that year and cost GM $3.6 billion.

In the coming days, we can expect to see more automakers releasing their U.S. auto sales data for the third quarter. Ford Motor is scheduled to report its figures on Wednesday, while Stellantis’ unit, FCA U.S., reported a 1.3% decline for the third quarter to 380,563 units.

Meanwhile, Asian automakers have also posted significant gains in the quarter. Toyota Motor reported a 12.2% rise in third-quarter U.S. sales, demonstrating the strong appeal of its vehicle lineup. Similarly, Kia and Hyundai saw higher sales for the period, indicating that these brands are resonating with American consumers.

Notably, Hyundai is offering incentives on its EVs to overcome the disadvantage of not qualifying for the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act tax credits. The company acknowledges the challenges posed by rising interest rates, which can make it more difficult for consumers to purchase vehicles.

In the EV space, industry leader Tesla recently reported its third-quarter delivery figures, which missed market estimates. This shortfall is attributed to planned factory upgrades, highlighting the complexities and challenges faced by EV manufacturers as they strive to meet growing demand and implement production improvements.

Overall, the surge in U.S. new vehicle sales for the third quarter reflects a resilient automotive market driven by consumer demand for the latest models and a more stable supply chain. The strong performance of both traditional automakers and Asian brands underscores the diverse and competitive nature of the U.S. automotive industry.

However, it’s important to monitor the impact of ongoing labor strikes, supply chain disruptions, and changing economic conditions, such as rising interest rates, as these factors can significantly influence the future trajectory of the automotive market. Additionally, the EV segment continues to be a focal point for automakers as they adapt to changing consumer preferences and government incentives.

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