New vehicle sales dip in first quarter

While inflation continues to elevate new vehicle prices, analysts say that isn’t the main reason for the slumping numbers to start the year.

Vehicles displayed at a Chevrolet dealership.

Vehicles displayed at a Chevrolet dealership.


Automakers have signaled in recent months that an end to the semiconductor shortage could be in sight. But despite the optimism heading into the year, sales numbers dipped in the first quarter.

General Motors says its numbers were down by about 20% while Ford reported a drop of around 17% over the same period in 2020.

“We have been seeing hybrid and electric vehicle sales rise ever since the fourth quarter of 2020.” — Michelle Krebs, Cox Automotive

Cox Automotive analyst Michelle Krebs says, beyond the challenge of obtaining semiconductors, car companies are now facing additional supply chain issues.

“There’s been a surge in COVID in China,” says Krebs, “which has prompted the government to lock down everything. And so suppliers and manufacturers have had to close their plants.”

However it wasn’t all bad news for automakers in the first three months of the year. Krebs says electric vehicle sales did see an increase.

Listen: Auto analyst Michelle Krebs discusses issues facing the auto industry.


“We have been seeing hybrid and electric vehicle sales rise ever since the fourth quarter of 2020,” says Krebs. “A lot of that has to do with there are more available — there are more nameplates out there.”

Krebs says, similar to their gasoline-powered counterparts, EV sales would likely be higher if not for inventory issues. Despite inflation driving up new vehicle prices, she says buyers don’t seem to be deterred.

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  • Alex McLenon
    Alex McLenon is a Reporter with 101.9 WDET. McLenon is a graduate of Wayne State University, where he studied Media Arts & Production and Broadcast Journalism.