Who won and lost in 2020 sales? GM, Ford both win in trucks.
GM was the arguable winner of the 2020 sales contest, at least among the American contestants, with a mere 12% falloff in sales. That was below Ford’s 15% drop or FCA’s 18% fall, and also enough to beat Honda and Nissan. GM roughly matched Toyota’s 11% fall; the only major automakers to really beat GM’s relatively low fall was Hyundai-Kia. If you go out to decimal points, incidentally, GM’s 11.9% fall edged out Volkswagen’s 12.2%.
GM and Ford both sold the most pickups. How can this work? GM sells Silverados and Sierras, 586,675 of one and 253,016 of the other. Together, they easily outsold Ford-the-company’s one brand, Ford, with 787,422 sales—by nearly 50,000. Ram nearly reached Chevrolet numbers with 563,676 sales, but without a GMC, FCA was far behind GM or Ford.
The top selling vehicles were mainly trucks and crossovers: aside from the large pickups, the Top Ten list included Toyota RAV4 (430,387) and Honda CR-V (335,502), which brings us to the #6 best selling vehicle in America—and one of just two sedans to make the list. That’s the Toyota Camry, #294,348, beating the Chevy Equinox crossover, Honda Civic, GMC Sierra, and Toyota Tacoma pickup.
You know traditional cars are on the way out when the tenth best seller, the Kia Forte, only ekes out 85,000 sales. The #10 light truck/SUV was the Ford Explorer, with 226,217 sales—which would beat the #4 best selling traditional car.
American automakers only had two cars in the top ten, the Fusion (110,665) and Malibu (102,651); otherwise, it was all Japan, all the time, save for the Kia in #10. In light trucks, the domestics did better, taking the top three positions (for pickups), but then Toyota and Honda dominated crossovers; the only American trucks other than pickups on the top list were the Chevy Equinox (#6) and Ford Explorer (#10). (The only other non-pickups were the RAV4, CR-V, and Rogue. The top-seller list is really dominated by pickups.)
American’s favorite brand remained Toyota, with 567,761 sales, followed by Chevrolet (518,527) and Ford (507,629). From there to the next favorite is a serious drop, to 324,739 (Honda). Fiat Chrysler is conspicuously absent from the list of top brands; together, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Maserati, and Ram managed to barely break half a million sales, which is less than Ford or Chevrolet or Toyota alone. To be fair to FCA, Lincoln was mostly a no-show with just 31,000 sales, fewer than Buick or Cadillac; but GM also had the GMC powerhouse and Toyota’s Lexus did reasonably well for a luxury brand, with nearly 93,000 sales.
Hyundai’s Genesis didn’t really threaten anyone, with its sales progress halted and sliding back 23% to 16,384 cars; that wasn’t even enough to beat the Chrysler 300 after the latter had a 43% plunge in sales. Genesis, as a brand, was beaten by Alfa Romeo, for that matter.
In other news, as reported by mopower.com, Ford easily won the muscle-car sales race, around 18,000 cars ahead of the Challenger, which in turn was around 13,000 cars ahead of the Camaro, whose mere 29,775 sales must be a disappointment to GM—since the company had been planning to keep making Camaros for a few more years.
Chrysler won the minivan race despite a sales drop, with 93,802 sales going to the Pacifica, while plummeting fleet sales across the industry left the (discontinued) Grand Caravan almost dead and in second to last place in sales, only beating the moribund Kia Sedona. The Odyssey came in #2, close to the Pacifica; the Toyota Sienna ended up with fewer than half the sales of the Pacifica, and will be replaced by a new hybrid-only model as Toyota gives up any dreams of dominance in the dying minivan market.
Finally, Mopower’s look at large cars found few actual competitors alive, and the Dodge Charger dominated those with 77,425 sales. The Toyota Avalon was closer to the 300’s 16,653. The Taurus, LaCrosse, and Impala are all dead. Genesis barely registered. The only other large car in the mix, from Lincoln, had just 22,742 sales. It appears FCA has won in two dying segments; but today’s reveal of the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L suggests they are going to make a pitch for a growing segment as their past strongholds disappear.
Clark Westfield grew up fixing up and driving past-their-prime American cars, including various GM and Mopar V8s. He has ghostwritten auto news for the last few years, and lives in Farmingdale, New York.