U.S. auto sales fell 8% in 2022 and inventories are growing



DETROIT — Shortages of computer chips and other parts continued to hobble the U.S. auto industry last year, contributing to vehicle sales dropping 8% from 2021 to their lowest level in more than a decade.

But there's good news for consumers in the gloomy numbers: Vehicle supplies on dealer lots are growing, albeit slowly, and automakers expect at least a small easing in prices this year as inventories grow.

Automakers reported Wednesday that they sold 13.9 million cars, trucks, SUVs and vans last year as the parts shortage limited factory output amid high demand for new vehicles. It was the lowest sales number since 2011 when the economy was recovering from the Great Recession.

But sales were up slightly in the fourth quarter and inventories grew as parts supplies improved enough to increase production a little. Analysts are now expecting sales to grow by roughly 1 million to around 14.8 million this year as demand remains strong. But they'll still be far short of the normal 17 million per year before the pandemic.

With many models still in short supply, though, the average new vehicle price rose 2.5% in December to a record of just over $46,000, according to J.D Power.

  • General Motors was up 2.5%, retaking its traditional spot as the nation's top selling automaker.

  • Toyota, which won the crown in 2021, saw its sales fall 9.6% last year. Lexus sales dropped 15%.

  • Stellantis dropped nearly 13% despite a strong showing from Dodge (up nearly 15%).

  • Honda sales plummeted 32.9% for the year after wise resource management kept 2021 sales strong.

  • Hyundai was up just under 1%; luxury subsidiary Genesis continued to grow its dealer network and recorded nearly 14% more sales than in 2021.

  • Kia sales fell 1.1% for the year, finishing a hair under 700,000.

  • Nissan sales tumbled 25.4%; its luxury arm, Infiniti, offered no help (-20.4%).

  • Subaru was down 4.7% — characteristically stronger than many of its peers.

  • Mazda was down more than 11% for the year and is still working to replace volume lost to discontinued sedans.

  • BMW finished the year down just 1.2% on strong showings from both Mini and its core brand.

Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Jaguar-Land Rover numbers remain outstanding as of this update.

Electric vehicle sales hit more than 807,000 last year, up almost 65% from 2021. Pickups and SUVs were 77.3% of sales while cars dropped to 22.7%.

This article contains reporting by AP.

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