U.S. vehicle sales in the second quarter for General Motors, Toyota Motor and Fiat Chrysler plunged by more than 30% as the coronavirus caused consumers to stay at home, and dealerships and factories to shutter.
The hefty declines are in line with what Wall Street expected. Nissan Motor, Hyundai Motor and Porsche also reported significant drops in sales between April and June compared with a year earlier. Most of the U.S., European and Asian automakers report their second-quarter auto sales Wednesday.
U.S. vehicle sales were forecast to fall by about 34% in the second quarter, according to auto research firms Edmunds and TrueCar's ALG. The second quarter is expected to be the worst of the year for the automakers due to the pandemic.
Year over year, GM reported a 34% decline in sales in the second quarter, while Fiat Chrysler said vehicles sold fell 38.6%. Toyota said sales dropped 34.6% during the three months ended Tuesday compared with a year ago.
Shares of Fiat Chrysler fell by more than 3% in afternoon trading Wednesday. Shares of GM were slightly in the red. Toyota's stock was down nearly 1%.
Both GM and Fiat Chrysler said full-size pickup truck sales performed exceptionally well, and overall sales showed signs of recovery, especially deliveries to retail customers.
"GM entered the quarter with very lean inventories and our dealers did a great job meeting customer demand, especially for pickups," Kurt McNeil, GM's U.S. vice president, sales operations, said in a release. "Now, we are refilling the pipeline by quickly and safely returning production to pre-pandemic levels."
Jeff Kommor, head of U.S. sales for Fiat Chrysler, said retail sales to consumers have been rebounding since bottoming in April, however fleet sales to governments and businesses have been canceled or delayed.
"This quarter demonstrated the resilience of the U.S. consumer," Kommor said in a release. "Retail sales have been rebounding since April as the reopening of the economy, steady gas prices, and access to low-interest loans spur people to buy." He said the company has built "a strong fleet order book" that will assist its sales in the second half of the year.
Fleet sales were expected to come to a grinding halt for many automakers during the first half of the year as corporate customers cut costs and some struggled to stay afloat. That includes the rental car industry, highlighted by the bankruptcy of Hertz.
Most major automakers are expected to report June or second-quarter sales on Wednesday, providing another look at how the coronavirus crippled the auto industry during the first half of the year.
Other automakers reporting June or second-quarter sales include: