Hyundai, Kia sales slip in August as chip woes spread

The severe microchip shortage and other supply-chain constraints that have plagued automakers for months have now ensnarled Hyundai and Kia.

After a stretch of record sales, August U.S. light-vehicle deliveries fell 3.7 percent at Hyundai and 5.3 percent at Kia, the companies said Wednesday.

Demand for some of the two companies’ most popular light trucks — the Hyundai Palisade, Tucson and Santa Fe, as well as the Kia Telluride, Seltos and Sorento — dropped last month.

Kia said it sold 75 percent of available inventory last month and Hyundai ended August with 39,357 new vehicles in U.S. stock, a decline of 15 percent from 46,113 in July.

Eric Watson, vice president of sales operations at Kia America, cited “challenges facing the industry regarding parts availability and overall inventory” for the company’s August results. 

Hyundia said overall retail sales fell 7 percent last month, with retail deliveries of cars off 3 percent and light trucks down 9 percent, suggesting more shoppers are delaying a purchase until availability and selection improve.

“Consumer demand for Hyundai vehicles remains at an all-time high and we expect our inventory pipeline to improve throughout the remainder of the year,” said Randy Parker, senior vice president for national sales at Hyundai Motor America.

New crossovers continue to boost volume at Genesis, with August sales soaring 266 percent to 4,975.

Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co., Subaru, Mazda and Volvo are scheduled to report August sales later Wednesday. Ford Motor Co. will release results for the month on Thursday. The rest of the industry reports sales on a quarterly basis.

U.S. light-vehicle sales are expected to fall 4 to 18 percent in August, based on estimates from Cox Automotive, TrueCar, J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.

The seasonally adjusted, annualized rate of sales is projected to drop to 13.1 million to 14.4 million, the four forecasting companies say.

A 13.1 million reading would be the lowest of the year and the lowest since June 2020’s 13.23 million rate, early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

The severe microchip shortage, along with new COVID-19 restrictions in southeast Asia that have disrupted key supply chains, continue to undermine car and light-truck output and supplies.

Inventories remained severely depressed and well below 1 million in August, J.D. Power and LMC Automotive say, compared to car and light-truck supplies of 3 million two years ago.

Honda last week warned September U.S. deliveries to dealers will be 40 percent below planned levels, even as the company prioritizes North American output.

Several analysts and automakers have begun to trim their outlook for U.S. sales in 2021. LMC last month said it now expects U.S. deliveries this year to total 16.5 million, down 400,000 units from its previous forecast. 

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