Thursday, September 24, 2020
News 2020 First Quarter Auto Sales: They're Really Bad

2020 First Quarter Auto Sales: They’re Really Bad

And the start of Q2 2020 might be even worse.


  • Canadian auto sales down 20% in the first quarter of 2020
  • In the United States, only Ram and Kia posted positive Q1 sales results

Although many manufacturers were off to a good start in 2020, U.S. and Canadian auto sales tanked in March, and no company came out of the first quarter of the year unscathed.

Around the world, manufacturing plants came to a grinding halt as companies sought to protect their workforce from the extremely contagious coronavirus COVID-19 virus. Meanwhile, with a stay-at-home order in effect in Canada and in the majority of the United States, and with dealerships closing their showrooms after being considered a non-essential service, took care of putting virtually everyone’s car shopping periods on hold.

Considerable Drops In New Auto Sales Will Cause Serious Harm To The Economy

The brands who posted to biggest year-over-year auto sales losses in Canada are Maserati (-57%), Infiniti (-50%) and Porsche (-42%), followed by MINI (-37%), Nissan (-36%) and Acura (-33%), Honda (-31%) and BMW (-30%). We don’t yet have numbers for Fiat, but they should be close to smart’s, whose sales dived by a nice, round 100%.

On the flipside, the brands who wrote their 2020 Q1 report in Canada with the least red ink are Land Rover (-11%), Subaru (-13%), General Motors (-13%), Lexus (-13%) and Ford (-14%). It’s also worth mentioning that in Canada, passenger car sales dropped from 25.7% to 20.8%, while light truck sales rose from 74.3% to 79.2%. Even in troubled times, consumers keep gobbling up SUVs and pickup trucks.

In the United States, auto sales were slightly rosier, if only because the stay-at-home measures and business shutdowns occurred later in the month of March. The brand that are hurting the most are Fiat (-49%), Lamborghini (-38%), MINI (-35%), Buick (-35%), Nissan (-30%) and Infiniti (-26%).

Only two brands in the U.S. actually increased their sales totals in the first quarter of 2020 compared to 2019: Ram (2.5%) and Kia (1%). As these lines are being written, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo had yet to publish their Q1 figures.

We should get more specific details on March 2020 sales figures in a few days.

Land Rover

If the industry as a whole will struggle to recover from the devastating March results, auto sales won’t get any better in April, as the stay-at-home order has been maintained for now—and was even established in states like Florida and Texas just days ago. According to J.D. Power and Associates, sales have dropped by 80% in major cities with a stay-at-home order in place. In addition, dealerships may soon experience parts shortages, which will complicate after-sales service for current owners.

Many manufacturers have announced incentives to at least get some auto sales in the books, such as 0% financing for up to 84 months, along with cash rebates and deferred payments for up to 120 days. Meanwhile, existing owners and lessees were offered the possibility of delaying payments for a few months until the pandemic crisis boils over.

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