Hyundai, Kia cap solid Q1 with record March

Hyundai and Kia set monthly U.S. sales records in March, capping solid advances in first-quarter volume, signaling the market continues to gain traction one year after the pandemic upended the auto industry.

Volume rose 46 percent to 66,523 at Kia and 115 percent to 75,403 at Hyundai last month, behind strong crossover deliveries. For the quarter, volume rose 16 percent to a record 159,550 at Kia, and 28 percent at Hyundai.

Hyundai said it set a monthly record for retail volume — 72,740 units, up 153 percent — in March, with fleet volume off 58 percent during the month.

At Genesis, the new GV80 crossover continued to outpace the combined sales of the brand’s three sedans, leading to a 108 percent increase in first-quarter volume of 8,222. March sales rose 210 percent.

March U.S. light-vehicle deliveries are forecast to rise sharply – as much as 50 percent — according to analysts at Cox Automotive, J.D. Power-LMC and TrueCar, from a year earlier as the pandemic spread in the U.S., many dealerships were closed and the pace of sales plunged by a third from February.

First-quarter sales are forecast to rise around 8 percent, according to analysts, even as inventories fall because of tight microchip supplies worldwide, forcing automakers to idle output.

Other automakers will report March and first-quarter results later today, followed by Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar Land Rover next week.

Light trucks continue to drive the market, with retail demand offsetting weak fleet shipments. First-quarter retail sales are projected to tally 3.16 million, the second highest level for the quarter, J.D. Power said.

A new round of government stimulus is padding consumers’ pockets, while employment and economic activity continue to rebound as more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19.

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