Which Car Company Made the Most During the Pandemic?

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic dramatically affected car sales, leading to effects customers still feel today. However, not all automakers were created equal. Some had a better time during the pandemic than others. Here’s a look at how Mazda managed to weather the storm and actually did well during the pandemic.

How bad things got during the pandemic

A car parking lot with two rows of 6 cars of mixed colors with black, silver, and red cars.
Dealership car sales | Getty Images

There was a lot of uncertainty in the air when things started heating up in March 2020. Nobody knew much about the virus or how bad it was going to be. People lost their jobs, and the stock market crashed as the U.S. and much of the world locked down. This massive economic downturn led to a significant drop in people buying new cars.

According to ValuePenguin, the second quarter of 2020 saw a 30% drop in car sales across the board from 2019. This drop wasn’t across the whole industry. GM was the best-selling automaker in that time period, with over 490,000 units sold. In comparison, GM sold over 730,000 units in the second quarter of 2019. This was a roughly 33% drop year-over-year. 

One of the hardest-hit automakers was Nissan. ValuePenguin said that Nissan sold about 190,000 units in the second quarter of 2020. This was a roughly 50% drop compared to the same time in 2019 when about 380,000 units were sold. While Nissan was one of the most-troubled automakers, Mazda was the opposite.

Mazda did great during the pandemic

According to ValuePenguin, Mazda was the least-impacted major automaker during those early months of the pandemic. The company sold about 61,000 units during quarter two of 2020. This was a roughly 10% drop from the same period in 2019 when Mazda sold just under 68,000 units. Mazda performed better in the later months of 2020 like other automakers.

The New York Times reported that Mazda was just one of three automakers that saw increased sales in 2020 when compared to 2019. The other two automakers were Volvo and Tesla. So, while Mazda definitely didn’t make the most cars during the pandemic, Mazda did come out of the pandemic relatively unscathed.

The New York Times said that happened for a few reasons. Mazdas aren’t expensive, and due to the uncertain economy, some customers may have chosen to buy a Mazda instead of a more expensive car. Furthermore, Mazda’s small drop in sales in the middle of the pandemic can be explained by its size. Like The New York Times wrote, Mazda didn’t have “a lot to lose.” 

The Mazda CX-5’s increasing popularity

None of that would’ve been possible if Mazda didn’t make good cars. It’s one thing to buy a cheap car; it’s another thing to buy a good cheap car. That’s why it’s not surprising that many of the best-reviewed Mazdas are seeing an increase in sales recently. The best-selling Mazda is the CX-5 and set a sales record during the pandemic. 

The CX-5 sold over 146,000 units in 2020, and it’s on track to beat that record in 2021. So far, the CX-5 has sold about 88,000 units in 2021, and it doesn’t look like it’s stopping anytime soon. Other Mazdas, such as the CX-30, also sold well, but not as well as the CX-5. 

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