New Vehicle Retail Sales Make a Roaring Comeback in the Third Quarter, Edmunds Forecast
Although the auto industry continues to manage disruptions caused by the COVID-19 crisis, analysts say that the market shows strong signs of recovery

SANTA MONICA, CA — September 24, 2020 — The car shopping experts at Edmunds say that the third quarter represents a positive turning point for the automotive industry despite challenges presented by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Edmunds analysts forecast that 3,850,707 new cars and trucks will be sold in the U.S., which reflects an 11% decrease from the third quarter of 2019 but a 30.6% increase compared to the second quarter of the year.

"Third-quarter sales make at least two things apparent: Most of the doomsday scenarios forecasted at the beginning of the pandemic fortunately did not hold true, and the American consumer stepped up to become one of the many heroes in this chapter of resilience for the automotive industry," said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds’ executive director of insights. "Consistently lower interest rates encouraged new-car buyers — who were less likely to be financially hindered by the economic fallout of the pandemic — to pull the trigger on a purchase. Rising used vehicle prices also likely made the new car market more appealing for shoppers on the fence between the two. And car owners also got to leverage the extra value that trade-ins are commanding during COVID-19 to offset the cost of their next purchase."

Although retail sales have shown positive growth, Edmunds experts note that fleet sales continue to struggle during the pandemic. Edmunds estimates that fleet transactions will account for 10.8% of total sales for the third quarter, compared to 17.2% in the third quarter of 2019 and 13.2% last quarter.

"The last piece of the puzzle for the industry’s recovery is fleet sales," said Caldwell. "Daily rental companies have understandably reduced or delayed orders as Americans continue to stay at home rather than embark upon business or air travel. It will likely take a bit longer for this side of the business to make as dramatic a comeback as its retail counterparts."

QUARTERLY SALES VOLUME FORECAST, BY MANUFACTURER

SALES
VOLUME
2020 Q3
Forecast
Q3 2019
Sales
Q2 2020
Sales
Change from
Q3 2019
Change from
Q2 2020
GM 634,261 738,638 492,489 -14.1% 28.8%
Toyota 549,567 627,194 398,029 -12.4% 38.1%
Ford 534,290 580,251 433,869 -7.9% 23.1%
FCA 513,872 565,034 367,086 -9.1% 40.0%
Honda 394,229 429,214 293,502 -8.2% 34.3%
Hyundai/Kia 337,533 334,834 270,699 0.8% 24.7%
Nissan 220,645 327,354 177,328 -32.6% 24.4%
VW/Audi 132,550 150,578 101,605 -12.0% 30.5%
Industry 3,850,707 4,326,243 2,948,126 -11.0% 30.6%

QUARTERLY MARKET SHARE FORECAST, BY MANUFACTURER

Market
Share
2020 Q3
Forecast
Q3 2019
Sales
Q2 2020
Sales
Change from
Q3 2019
Change from
Q2 2020
GM 16.5% 17.1% 16.7% -3.5% -1.4%
Toyota 14.3% 14.5% 13.5% -1.6% 5.7%
Ford 13.9% 13.4% 14.7% 3.5% -5.7%
FCA 13.3% 13.1% 12.5% 2.2% 7.2%
Honda 10.2% 9.9% 10.0% 3.2% 2.8%
Hyundai/Kia 8.8% 7.7% 9.2% 13.3% -4.5%
Nissan 5.7% 7.6% 6.0% -24.3% -4.7%
VW/Audi 3.4% 3.5% 3.4% -1.1% -0.1%

More insight into recent auto industry trends can be found in the Edmunds Industry Center at https://www.edmunds.com/industry-center/.

About Edmunds
Edmunds guides car shoppers online from research to purchase. With in-depth reviews of every new vehicle, shopping tips from an in-house team of experts, plus a wealth of consumer and automotive market insights, Edmunds helps millions of shoppers each month select, price and buy a car with confidence. Regarded as one of America's best workplaces by Fortune and Great Place to Work, Edmunds is based in Santa Monica, California, and has a satellite office in Detroit, Michigan. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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