Kia's U.S. April Sales Decline, but Electrified Sales Still Break Records
According to autonews.com, Kia’s year over year U.S. sales for April were down 15.8%, overall. That sounds bad, but compared to the rest of the auto industry in the U.S. (except for Genesis and most likely the newer and start-up EV manufacturers like Tesla, Rivian and Lucid), it really was better than most. Only Mazda, Volvo, and Ford/Lincoln fared better, but those three also had year over year sales declines, they just had smaller declines than Kia. April year over year sales declines were most dramatic for Honda/Acura (down over 40%), Subaru (down over 25%), and Toyota (down almost 23%). Blame the ongoing semiconductor shortage and the war in Ukraine causing shortages of raw materials and components, globally.
In the middle of that gloomy news though, is a veritable ray of hope. Kia’s U.S. electrified vehicle sales were up a staggering 480% over April 2021 according to Kia. Undoubtedly, this impressive rise in sales is due to: the EV6 having another strong sales month (2,632 units, and remember the EV6 wasn’t on sale in the U.S. last April), the Niro soundly beating its April 2021 sales (3,023 for all 3 electrified models, 52% better than April sales from last year), as well as “robust” sales of the Sorento PHEV, and I assume the HEV version, and potentially even a few of the new 2023 Sportage HEVs too. This trend in Kia’s electrified vehicle sales is not only significant, it is sustained. According to Kia, last month gave them their 4th consecutive same-month sales record for all electrified vehicles and their 14th consecutive month of record EV sales.
Totalling up the electrified vehicle sales Kia explicitly calls out for the year to date, and estimating the totals of those it doesn't, I believe Kia has likely sold more than 25,000 “eco friendly” vehicles or so far this year (those being the Niro, all trims, the EV6, the Sorento PHEV and HEV, and now, possibly the Sportage HEV too, in order of volume sold). Compared to Tesla, that’s not very much as Tesla sold about 110,000 EVs in the U.S. in Q1 alone, according to InsideEVs. Compared to Kia’s other mainstream rivals though, that is quite competitive as Ford has sold over 12,000 EVs in the U.S. so far this year (Mustang Mach-E and the E-Transit electric van combined), according to InsideEVs, along with several thousand HEVs and PHEVs as an estimate (in the form of the Maverick, F-150, Explorer and Escape HEVs, as well as the Escape PHEV), and not including a small number of Lincoln electrified vehicle sales. Toyota, the “number one seller of electrified vehicles for the 89th consecutive quarter” (a statement that may cease to be true as Tesla’s Giga Austin plant gets closer to fuller production capacity) sold 132,938 HEV and PHEVs in the first quarter of 2022, while seeing its plug-in hybrid sales fall about 14% (when combined with Lexus, which just started selling its first PHEV model) to a meager 7,819 in total, according to InsideEVs. This means both Kia and Ford trounced Toyota’s Q1 plug-in vehicle sales. Hopefully Toyota will be able to significantly increase its plug-in sales numbers in coming quarters with the release of its bZ4X, but I would not hold my breath. Toyota will continue to struggle with the semiconductor shortage for the duration of the year. Toyota will also begin to lose its federal tax rebates on its plug-in vehicles this summer, which means plug-in Toyotas will get a lot more expensive if they don’t lower their prices, which is something they are unlikely to do as long as the pandemic induced supply chain issues persist and demand outpaces supply. Toyota also is not going to make very many of its new EVs for sale in the U.S. this year (because they don’t have enough battery supply). I estimate they will only sell between a few thousand to somewhere a little north of 10k by the end of the year. Start-up manufacturers like Rivian and Lucid may sell more EVs than Toyota does this year, which is saying something given how much more their EVs cost and how new both of those companies are in the manufacturing world. Toyota’s leadership claims in the electrification of automobiles is looking like some pretty weak sauce if you ask me, even though their hybrid sales are propping them up, for now.
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Justin Hart has owned and driven electric vehicles for over 14 years, including a first generation Nissan LEAF, second generation Chevy Volt, Tesla Model 3, an electric bicycle and most recently a Kia Sorento PHEV. He is also an avid SUP rider, poet, photographer and wine lover. He enjoys taking long EV and PHEV road trips to beautiful and serene places with the people he loves. Follow Justin on Twitter for daily KIA EV news coverage.