November U.S. auto sales: Hyundai, Kia sales fall 4th straight month

Supply-chain disruptions, driven by the ongoing shortage of microchips that has dented new-vehicle stockpiles, undercut U.S. sales at Hyundai and Kia for the fourth straight month in November.

Volume dropped 20 percent at Hyundai — its biggest decline of the current slump — and 5.4 percent at Kia last month, the companies said Wednesday.

Hyundai said it ended November with just 17,096 units in stock, down from 19,894 at the end of October and 145,885 at the close of Nov. 2020. Some of the company’s top-sellers posted notable declines last month; Elantra, down 42 percent; Sonata, off 56 percent; Santa Fe, down 24 percent and Kona, off 37 percent.

Hyundai’s fleet shipments also dropped sharply last month — 97 percent, and represented less than 1 percent of overall volume.

Randy Parker, senior vice president for national sales at Hyundai Motor America, said “consumer demand remains exceptionally high” but “lingering availability issues persisted into November.”

At Kia, some of the brand’s key models — led by the Telluride, Seltos, Sportage and Soul — all posted declines. The company said it sold 77 percent of available U.S. inventory in November.

Genesis, helped by an expanding product lineup, continued to rack up major gains, with November volume advancing 435 percent to 5,002 sedans and crossovers. 

Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co., Subaru, Mazda and Volvo are expected to report November sales results later Wednesday, while Ford Motor Co. is scheduled to release results for the month on Friday. General Motors, Stellantis, Nissan Motor Co., Volkswagen Group and the rest of the industry post U.S. sales quarterly.

U.S. light-vehicle sales are expected to fall 11 to 12 percent last month vs. Nov. 2020, analysts say — dashing hopes for a more substantial finish to 2021 fueled by traditional year-end holiday discounts — after volume dropped 14 percent in 2020 at the onset of the pandemic.

The emergence of another COVID-19 variant also threatens to upend the spotty recovery to the extent supply chains and manpower are impacted by new travel and other possible operating restrictions.

Retail inventories remained below 1 million units in November for the fourth straight month, J.D. Power and LMC Automotive said.

“The typical Black Friday sales surge will be difficult to support,” this year, said J.D. Power analyst Thomas King. “The traditional year-end sales push will be somewhat non-traditional.”

Industry sales rose 13 percent through September behind a strong first quarter and a 4.96 percent rise in the second quarter, followed by a 13 percent decline in the third quarter.

Still, November sales are expected to increase slightly from October, rising less than a percent to reach an estimated 1.05 million, Cox Automotive said.

“The market is stuck in low gear,” said Cox Automotive Senior Economist Charlie Chesbrough. “There are potential buyers out there, but many are waiting on the sidelines, put off by limited selection and high prices.”

Even amid tight supplies, some automakers continue to pitch deals to keep consumers and buyers engaged.

Hyundai and Ford last month offered 0 percent financing and waived payments up to 90 days on select models, and BMW dangled up to $2,500 off on select new models through Nov. 30.

Eleanore Beatty

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