Toyota Motor Corp. volume rebounded sharply and Hyundai and Kia set monthly U.S. sales records in March, capping solid advances in the first quarter, signaling the market continues to gain traction one year after the pandemic upended the auto industry.
At Toyota Motor, March sales rose 87 percent, with volume up 84 percent at the Toyota division and 113 percent at Lexus. With car deliveries rising 6.4 percent and light-truck demand up 30 percent, Toyota Motors’ first-quarter sales jumped 22 percent to 603,066; with the Toyota brand up 20 percent and Lexus advancing 32 percent.
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.