U.S. Auto Sales Fall In First Quarter Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

Car with American Flag
Photo Credit: welcomia/Shutterstock.com

As expected, the U.S. auto industry took a nosedive in the first quarter, due to lockdowns and dealership closures. All this, of course, a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Through mid-March, it looked like the sales numbers would be up for Q1 of 2020, but that quickly changed as showroom traffic fell flat, and dealers scrambled to perfect their online sales processes.

Unfortunately for the automakers, many of the most populous states were under lockdown starting in mid-March or before, most notably California. However, many counties and cities throughout America enacted their own rules.

Most car companies are not breaking down standalone March sales, instead looking at just the first quarter as a whole. Of the few who did, Toyota was off 35% for the month versus a year ago, and Lexus was off 47%. Honda was off 48% from March to March, and Acura fell 51%.

Of interest to pickup lovers, Chevy took back the second-place crown in the first quarter with the new Silverado after Ram stole the trophy away for 2019. First quarter Chevy Silverado sales were 143,698 against Ram sales of 128,805. Ford comfortably held the #1 position with 263,757 trucks delivered.

NOTE: Jaguar, Land Rover, and Mercedes-Benz will report sales later this month.

Overall sales for the month of March were roughly 983,000, a drop of 493,000 sales from March of 2019. The annual sales rate for all of 2020 is now pacing to do roughly 13 and a half million sales, versus 17 million per year the past five years. That number could change based on how fast the industry rebounds after the COVID-19 crisis ends.

Winners / Losers street sign
Credit: Andy Dean Photography/Shutterstock

Here are the numbers for the first quarter of 2020, versus the first quarter of 2019. The winners list is a short one:


Ram TrucksUp 2.5%
LincolnUp 2.3%
KiaUp 1%


FiatDown 49.1%
LamborghiniDown 38.4%
MiniDown 35.15%
BuickDown 34.7%
NissanDown 30%
InfinitiDown 25.5%
AcuraDown 21.6%
PorscheDown 20.2%
DodgeDown 19.8%
HondaDown 18.9%
SubaruDown 16.7%
CadillacDown 15.8%
LexusDown 15.6%
MaseratiDown 15.5%
MitsubishiDown 15.5%
BMWDown 15.3%
BentleyDown 14.2%
JeepDown 14.2%
AudiDown 14%
Alfa RomeoDown 13.6%
FordDown 13%
VWDown 12.6%
VolvoDown 11.7%
HyundaiDown 11.3%
ToyotaDown 7.9%
GenesisDown 5.9%
GMCDown 5.5%
ChryslerDown 4.6%
MazdaDown 4.5%
ChevroletDown 3.8%
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