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The U.S. auto industry has reportedly experienced a strong first quarter of 2021 of sales. Automakers including Hyundai, Nissan, Kia, and Toyota saw double-digit sales growth, which seem even stronger when compared to the same period last year when the COVID-19 constrained sales.
Compared to the first quarter of 2020, new-vehicle sales are up more than 8%. For example, Tesla’s total deliveries more than doubled from the first quarter of last year; Toyota’s sales increased by 22%, with strength particularly in its truck and SUV divisions; and sales of the Lexus RX were up 34%.
However, the industry hasn’t fully recovered yet. Cox Automotive estimated that 2021 auto sales so far are actually down 4.9% when compared to the first quarter of 2019. Nonetheless, these healthier numbers give reason to believe the industry could see strong sales through the rest of the year.
Jessica Caldwell, senior director of insights at Edmunds, noted in a release that the sales numbers are nothing to scoff at: “First-quarter sales are starting off on a strong note. The fact that we’re surpassing last year’s numbers when the pandemic didn’t even hit the industry until the last two weeks of March 2020 is no small feat.”
First-quarter sales took place despite facing falling inventories related to a worldwide semiconductor shortage. But while there have been lower inventories across the industry, the lack of vehicles on dealer lots has reportedly not yet impacted buying levels in a meaningful way. That could change in the second quarter of this year.
Moreover, the auto industry’s strong quarter was bolstered with sales of the ever-increasing popularity of trucks and SUVs. As aforementioned, Toyota’s RAV4 and the Tacoma sales were up, but they weren’t the only automaker to experience this. Ford’s trucks and SUVs saw sales grow by 5 and 14% respectively. Honda’s trucks and SUVs were up by 34% through the quarter. Hyundai’s most popular vehicles this past quarter, the Tucson and Santa Fe, saw sales increase by 40 and 44%.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), late-model SUVs still appear to be more likely to kill pedestrians than cars. New research from 2020 showed that SUVs pose a greater risk to pedestrians than cars, being more deadly when striking them.
Per the study’s limited sample, SUVs cause 7% more serious injuries to pedestrians than passenger cars when struck at speeds quicker than 19 miles per hour. At speeds between 20 and 39 mph, 30% of pedestrians struck by SUVs died, compared with 25% who were hit by cars. For pedestrians struck by SUV’s going at speeds of 40 mph or greater died, 100% died, versus 54% who were struck by cars.
“The proportion of SUVs in the U.S. fleet has grown dramatically, so it’s discouraging that they still seem to be more deadly to pedestrians than cars are,” IIHS Statistician Sam Monfort, lead author of the study, said.
Moreover, a new study has reportedly found that women drivers are more likely to die in crashes involving large vehicles. The cause of this problem is due to the fact that men, especially those who have aggressive driving tendencies, are often seen operating vehicles, such as SUVs and trucks. These types of male drivers are expected to commit negligent behavior that may result in a fatal accident.