November auto sales show ongoing slide as inventory woes persist

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The U.S. auto industry continues to recover from the pandemic-tainted sales of 2020, but you wouldn’t know it from a glance at the sales charts, which contained pretty much universally bad news for the manufacturers who still report monthly retail sales totals. 

Apart from Genesis, which is having a gangbuster year with a big fat asterisk on it, every brand that has reported its November sales so far has come up short compared to last year. Even Kia, which has already surpassed its previous full-year sales record, sold fewer units last month than it did during the same period in 2020. Sister company Hyundai saw a nearly 20% drop for its mainstream brand. 

Honda and Toyota, which both seemed better-positioned to weather the chip shortage earlier this year, remain up more than 12% and nearly 16% for the year, respectively, but those numbers will likely slip in December if current trends continue. With production shutdowns becoming less frequent and supply chain issues easing slightly, the final month of 2021 could be the difference between a rebound and relapse for some automakers.

Subaru, which experienced many consecutive years of sales growth prior to the pandemic, is in danger of selling fewer units in 2021 than it did in 2020. Its volume was down more than 34% in November. Of the automakers who report monthly sales, only Ford’s figures were still outstanding at the time of publication; like GM, the Blue Oval is expected to announce that its sales volumes have slipped further due to ongoing parts shortages. 

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