New car sales plunged over the last three months in the United States despite strong demand, as the shortage of computer chips and other supply chain issues caused shutdowns at auto factories and choked off the supply of vehicles.
General Motors reported sales fell a third from a year-ago last quarter, and they were off 40% from the same quarter of 2019 before the pandemic roiled the car market. The company pointed to semiconductor supply chain disruptions and historically low inventories.
The auto industry has been dealing with a shortage of computer chips needed to build cars for more than a year. GM said it expects the situation will improve in the final three months of 2021, but earlier this year automakers had hoped things would have improved by this point. Instead, GM has been forced to temporarily shut production of most of its North American plants.
“The semiconductor supply disruptions that impacted our third-quarter wholesale and customer deliveries are improving,” said the nation’s largest automaker in a statement. “As we look to the fourth quarter, a steady flow of vehicles held at plants will continue to be released to dealers, we are restarting production at key crossover and car plants, and we look forward to a more stable operating environment through the fall.”
Other automakers are due to report results later Friday or on Monday.
The shortage of vehicles has also led to record-high prices for both new and used cars for much of this year, which has also been a drag on sales, as some buyers have been priced out of the new car market.
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