April 3 (Reuters) – The world’s top automakers reported higher first-quarter sales in the United States due to improved dealer shipments, with the exception of Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T), which continued to grapple with spare parts shortages, data showed Monday.
General Motors Co (GM.N), which replaced Toyota as the top US automaker in 2022, posted a 17.6% increase in first-quarter auto sales.
“We gained significant market share in the first quarter, pricing was strong, inventories are in very good shape and we sold more than 20,000 EVs (electric vehicles) in a quarter for the first time,” said GM Executive Vice President Steve Carlisle, in a statement.
Vehicle production took a hit after the pandemic disrupted supplies of semiconductor chips and other raw materials, hurting automakers’ ability to meet rising demand for personal mobility. Companies have been trying to make up for lost production ever since, as supply chain pain gradually eases.
But rising interest rates and fears of a recession can be a killjoy in an industry where most car purchases are financed with loans, analysts say, as they look for signs of stagnant demand. The average transaction price of vehicles has also increased in the past year.
“Consumers are facing credit uncertainty as rapidly rising interest rates have created barriers to entry for even the most qualified buyers,” said Jessica Caldwell, chief insights officer at automotive research firm Edmunds.
GM said Monday that US sales pink to 603,208 units in the first quarter from 512,846 a year earlier. Toyota said sales fell 8.8% to 469,558 vehicles, but added that inventory was improving.
Asian peers Mazda, Honda and Hyundai all posted an increase in sales.
“Anyone looking for signs of a recession won’t find them in the new-vehicle market, as several automakers posted record first-quarter sales,” said Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist at Cox Automotive.
Electric vehicle leader Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) posted record deliveries but its shares fell on Monday amid growing margin concerns following aggressive price cuts.
Overall, US new vehicle sales for March were 1.37 million units, with an annual sales rate of 14.82 million, according to data released by Wards Intelligence on Monday.
Reporting by Nathan Gomes, Abhijith Ganapavaram, Kannaki Deka and Shivansh Tiwary in Bengaluru; Edited by Shilpi Majumdar
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