General Motors Co outsold Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp in the United States in the third quarter, data on Monday showed, but analysts and investors are fretting that a darkening economic picture will lead to a drop in future car sales.
GM said it sold 555,580 vehicles in the quarter through September, 24% higher than last year when inventory shortages hit sales. Toyota’s sales fell 7.1% to 526,017 vehicles in the same period.
The Detroit automaker added it would boost production of its Chevrolet Bolt electric models in response to higher demand.
Thus far, a shortage of cars due to supply disruptions, combined with a preference for personal transport, has seen consumers willing to shell out more money, largely protecting profits at automakers and auto dealers who have pulled back on discounts.
But analysts now warn demand may lose steam in the coming quarters as rising interest rates discourage consumers from paying more money for cars and trucks in the coming months.
Used-car dealer CarMax Inc rang the alarm bells on Thursday, suggesting consumers were beginning to pull back from big-ticket purchases due to decades-high inflation.
Shipping finished vehicles to consumers proved to be another headache for the industry in the quarter. Tesla Inc shares fell on Monday after it sold fewer-than-expected vehicles in the third quarter as deliveries lagged way behind production due to logistic hurdles.
Supply issues also dragged down sales of Fiat Chrysler 6%.
“We are paying close attention to how the industry will react to these concerns. Perhaps there will be more incentives, longer finance terms, or a combination of these,” said TrueCar analyst Zack Krelle.
Auto industry consultant Cox Automotive said U.S. automakers may sell more vehicles in the third quarter over Japanese brands, which are still struggling with inventory issues.
Another consultant Edmunds said a total of 3,393,988 new cars and trucks will be sold in the United States in the quarter, a 0.9% decrease from a year earlier.
GM’s sales numbers failed to make a dent on its shares, which were up 2.6% in morning trade.
The automaker said it plans to increase calendar-year production of both Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV for global markets to more than 70,000 in 2023 from about 44,000 vehicles in 2022.
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