The Pandemic Sank Auto Gross sales

Tesla, the world’s most respected automaker by far, mentioned on Saturday that globally it bought 500,000 automobiles in 2020, up 36 % from the yr earlier than. The corporate doesn’t break its gross sales down by nation or continent.

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Jan. 8, 2021, 2:08 p.m. ET

Ford Motor and most different automakers are anticipated to report their 2020 gross sales totals on Wednesday.

As a result of the virus surged at completely different occasions in other places, auto gross sales have additionally moved in sudden methods, mentioned Mark Wakefield, a managing associate at Alix Companions, a consulting agency with a big automotive follow.

“In case you are an city vendor, you most likely had a number of disruption, however if you’re in a rural space and largely promote pickup vehicles, possibly your gross sales had been solely down 5 % for the yr,” he mentioned.

Alix Companions is forecasting that the business will promote 15.8 million automobiles and lightweight vehicles in 2021. That might be a rise of about 1.3 million however nonetheless effectively under the roughly 17 million stage the business had maintained for a number of years earlier than 2020.

Mr. Wakefield mentioned a easy and speedy vaccination effort might give the auto enterprise and the economic system extra carry. “If the vaccination rollouts occur effectively, you may see extra spending get unleashed,” he mentioned.

Forecasters stay cautious as a result of tens of millions of People are out of labor and underneath monetary stress. However a big variety of customers — sometimes white-collar professionals who’ve continued accumulating paychecks whereas working at house — have cash to spend as a result of they’ve needed to reduce on journey, eating and leisure.

“There may be a number of disposable revenue on the market,” Mr. Keogh mentioned.

Automakers are relying on a number of new fashions this yr to maintain gross sales on the rise. Ford has redesigned its F-150 pickup truck, the top-selling car within the nation, and is bringing again the Bronco, a as soon as standard S.U.V. that the corporate had not made in years. Ford additionally lately started delivering the Mustang Mach E, an electrical S.U.V. styled to resemble its iconic sports activities automotive. Volkswagen plans to begin promoting an electrical S.U.V., the ID.4, in March. And G.M. is planning to reboot the Hummer as an electrical pickup truck this fall.

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