The US auto industry continues its growth trajectory after recovering from the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic shutdown of 2020–2021. In the fourth quarter of 2023, overall US auto sales experienced an 8% increase compared to the same period in 2022. Notably, sales of pure electric vehicles (BEVs) surged by an impressive 29%. Despite prevalent narratives suggesting a lack of interest in or reluctance to purchase electric vehicles, the growth in EV sales has outpaced the standard auto sales growth, dispelling anti-EV sentiments.
Analyzing the breakdown of auto sales by brand, Toyota, Ford, Chevrolet, and Honda continue to lead the charts, with a slightly wider spread between each of them compared to previous quarters. Tesla maintains a commendable position at 8th, a remarkable achievement for a relatively young, fully electric car company. Interestingly, Tesla is closely trailing behind the 7th-ranked Kia, 6th-ranked Nissan, and even the 5th-ranked Hyundai. The possibility of Tesla rising to the 5th position in 2024 is an optimistic prospect worth considering.
Moving down the rankings, Rivian faces the challenge of more than doubling its sales to break into the top 20, a feat that seems plausible given the company’s potential. As for Lucid, optimism is tempered, with the Saudi-backed company potentially requiring a more mass-market option to enhance its competitiveness.
Reflecting on the pre-pandemic period in Q4 2019, a historical perspective reveals which auto brands have exhibited growth and which have faced challenges over the past five years. Tesla emerges as the leader in both volume and percentage sales growth. Among larger automakers, Kia, Hyundai, and Mazda have performed well, while smaller automakers such as MINI, Volvo, and Porsche have also demonstrated commendable growth.
Comparison charts for Q4 2020 and Q4 2021 are available, but given the global disruptions in the auto market and the broader economy, drawing meaningful insights from those periods may be challenging. Returning to the Q4 2022 comparison, Rivian stands out with the highest percentage growth in the entire auto industry, although it began from a relatively lower starting point. In terms of volume growth, 15 other auto brands outpaced Rivian, with Tesla ranking 5th in overall volume sales growth and 12th in percentage sales growth.
Examining the overall market trends, it’s evident that US auto sales were up compared to Q4 in the two years preceding 2023 but down when compared to Q4 2019 and Q4 2020. The big-picture overview of brand trends in the past five years in the fourth quarter provides a comprehensive understanding of the dynamic landscape in the US auto industry.