A Look at the First Half of 2020: Pickups, EVs and Convertibles
Wednesday July 8, 2020
We can all agree: It’s good to have the first half of 2020 in the rearview mirror. It will be remembered for all the wrong reasons, and all of us at Cox Automotive are hoping the second half of this not-great year has more ups than downs.
Our Kelley Blue Book data team has crunched the numbers for the first half of 2020. In all, the market for new vehicles was down 23% from year-ago levels. Fleet sales in the first six months were down 44% while retail sales declined 19%. Here’s what else we found:
- The Kelley Blue Book team breaks the market into 23 unique segments, stretching from compact cars to luxury midsize SUVs to vans. In the first six months of 2020, nearly 52% of all new vehicles sales came from just three segments: midsize SUV (509,796), full-size pickup (506,627), compact SUV (500,659). Those three segments accounted for 1,517,082 of the industry’s 2,931,366 total sales year to date.
- While every brand saw sales decline in the first half – no surprise – only three were able to hold on for drops of less than 10%. The “winners” so far this year: Tesla (-2.6%), Mazda (-7.0%) and Lincoln (-8.0%).
- Both full-size pickups from General Motors—the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra—certainly have to be considered for the “First-Half MVP Award.” Both were struggling through launch issues in the first half of 2019 but hit their stride this year. The Silverado regained its traditional #2 spot in the full-size pickup race, outpacing the Ram pickup by approximately 18,000 units through the end of June. Silverado outsold Ram in 5 of the past 6 months, although it is worth noting that Ram is still commanding a higher average transaction price (ATP) per sale.
- In the first half of 2020, cars and vans suffered the most, dropping 35.6% and 36.9%, respectively. Pickup trucks and SUVs did comparatively better, particularly pickup trucks, which saw total sales drop only 10.5% versus 2019. In the first half of 2020, nearly 900,000 fewer cars were sold compared to last year.
- Thanks to Tesla and new products from Porsche and Audi, full electric vehicles (EVs) did remarkably well in the first half, down only 7% from 2019 levels. Even Chevrolet Bolt increased sales in the first half, up 1.1%. On the other hand, hybrid electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids ran out of juice. Sales were down more than 40%. Toyota’s Prius continues to be king of the hybrid hill, although that hill is notably smaller in 2020.
- The small car segment was struggling before the pandemic hit. In the first half of 2020, it got worse. Mini sales were off 40.5%, and Fiat tabled a drop of 51.7%.
- With so many trucks and SUVs selling comparatively well in the first half, the ATP for a new vehicle in the U.S. was pushed even higher. June 2020 was in fact the second-highest month on record for ATPs, topped only by April 2020 when Texas was mostly open for business and full-size pickups was the industry’s best-selling segment. In April, ATP pushed close to $39,000, and June was slightly lower. Worth noting, Mitsubishi continues to offer the most affordable line of new vehicles in America, by far, with an ATP in June of $23,398.
- The first half of the year was mostly a buffet of bad results, but it wasn’t all bad. Indeed, let’s drift back to the salad days of February when sales volume delivered the best February since the Great Recession with 1.35million units.
- It wasn’t just full-size pickups that did well in the first half; mid-size trucks maintained their popularity. Sales were down less than 10%. Toyota Tacoma (51,063) held onto its top spot by a large margin, but Ford Ranger (25,008) outpaced the older Chevrolet Colorado (19,843) in the first six months of 2020 and took the lead in the hot race for second place.
- On a final positive note, let’s celebrate the small and nimble two-seat convertible, the ultimate expression of the car as fun. In the first half of the year, as Americans found ways to be distant, consumers were out buying classic drop-tops. Both the BMW Z4 and Mazda MX-5 have seen increased sales in 2020. And that perhaps is reason to believe open-air motoring is the safest way to travel in our pandemic moment.