U.S. sales at top automakers rise as inventory improves, Toyota struggles

April 3 (Reuters) – The world’s leading automakers said U.S. sales rose in the first quarter on improving shipments to dealers, except for Toyota Motor Corp ( 7203.T ), which continued to struggle with parts shortages.

General Motors Co ( GM.N ), which will replace Toyota as the top U.S. automaker by 2022, posted a 17.6% rise in first-quarter auto sales.

“We gained significant market share in the first quarter, pricing was strong, inventory was in very good shape, and we sold more than 20,000 EVs (electric vehicles) in a quarter for the first time,” said GM Executive Vice President Steve Carlisle. A statement.

Auto production suffered after the pandemic disrupted supplies of semiconductor chips and other raw materials, affecting carmakers’ ability to meet the surge in demand for personal mobility. As supply chain disruptions gradually ease, companies are scrambling to make up for lost production.

But rising interest rates and fears of a recession could sour an industry where most vehicle purchases are financed through loans, say analysts, who are watching for signs of waning demand. The average transaction price of vehicles has also increased in the last one year.

“Consumers face credit uncertainty as rapidly rising interest rates have created barriers to entry for even the most qualified buyers,” said Jessica Caldwell, managing director of insights at auto research firm Edmonds.

GM said on Monday US sales is high 603,208 units in the first quarter from 512,846 a year earlier. Toyota said sales fell 8.8% to 469,558 vehicles, but inventories were improving.

Asian giants such as Mazda, Honda and Hyundai saw sales boom.

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“Anyone looking for signs of a slowdown won’t find it in the new vehicle market, as several makers delivered record sales in the first quarter,” said Charlie Chesbro, senior economist at Cox Automotive.

EV leader Tesla Inc ( TSLA.O ) posted record deliveries, but its shares fell on Monday on growing margin concerns after aggressive price cuts.

Overall, US new vehicle sales in March were 1.37 million units, an annualized rate of 14.82 million, according to data released by Wards Intelligence on Monday.

Reporting by Nathan Gomes, Abhijith Ganabavaram, Kannagi Deka and Shivansh Tiwari in Bangalore; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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