Chip Shortage Makes Big Dent in Automakers’ U.S. Sales

on Oct3
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Toyota said its sales in the quarter were about 1 percent higher than a year earlier, at 566,005. But its sales for September were down 22 percent.

General Motors does not report monthly sales figures. Ford is expected to report its third-quarter sales on Monday. Tesla, which counts deliveries on a worldwide basis, issued its report on Saturday; it reached a quarterly record, but hinted that it, too, had been hampered by the chip shortage.

The shortage of semiconductors has forced manufacturers to idle plants for weeks at a time. G.M. idled several pickup truck plants for parts of August and September. Toyota cut global production by 40 percent in September, and expects a similar cut in October.

General Motors emphasized that a lack of potential buyers was not the problem. “Underlying demand conditions remain strong, thanks to ample job openings, growing pent-up vehicle demand and excess savings accumulated by many households during the pandemic,” Elaine Buckberg, G.M.’s chief economist, said in a company statement.

And the company signaled that the chip supply was improving. “We look forward to a more stable operating environment through the fall,” said Steve Carlisle, the president of G.M. North America.

At the end of September, G.M. had 128,757 vehicles in dealer inventories, down from 211,974 at the end of June and more than 334,000 at the end of the first quarter. In years past, the figure was often about 800,000.

Toyota had 37,516 vehicles on dealer lots at the end of the quarter, and 61,208 at ports serving the U.S. market. At the current sales rate, that is enough to last about 18 days.

Ben Casselman contributed reporting.

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