Sport utility vehicles and trucks are dominating U.S. auto sales like never before as carmakers start to recover from the biggest shock to their industry in decades.
Recovering pickup and SUV demand helped the annualized rate of sales rebound to 12.2 million in May from 8.6 million in April, according to researcher Wards Intelligence. The earlier reading was the lowest seasonally adjusted figure in data going back to 1976.
The light-truck share of U.S. sales, which include SUVs, rose to a record 77.2% as passenger cars fell even farther out of favor. With Hertz Global Holdings Inc. having filed for bankruptcy and its peers canceling vehicle orders, automakers are unable to support their struggling sedan models with deliveries to rental fleets.
“The clear positive is that U.S. autos have passed the worst,” wrote Dan Levy, an auto analyst at Credit Suisse who boosted his 2020 sales forecast by 1 million to 13.5 million. “Supply has started to get tight, and will likely get tighter in June – especially in large pickups.”