The COVID-19 pandemic led to a decline in new vehicle sales in 2020 due to lessened demand and inventory constraints from production shutdowns. In 2021, new car sales are showing signs of recovery, and shoppers looking for a new vehicle have the choice of buying a vehicle from the previous model year, 2020, or the current model year, 2021.
However, some models have more remaining 2020 inventory than others, making them more likely to provide discounts for new car shoppers. To determine which vehicles have the highest share of remaining 2020 model year vehicles available, iSeeCars analyzed over 700,000 new cars for sale.
“When looking at inventory in 2021, there is 9.5 percent less new car inventory from the current model year compared to the same time last year,” said iSeeCars Executive Analyst Karl Brauer. “This is likely because automakers had to delay releases of their new vehicles and because inventory hasn’t completely stabilized. These cars not only provide negotiation opportunities right now, but many of these vehicles can present even greater savings opportunities as more 2021 vehicles enter the pipeline.”
New Cars with the Highest Share of 2020 InventoryWhile the average new model has 22.5 percent of its inventory remaining from the 2020 model year, 24 models have at least 1.5 times that amount on dealer lots.
|New Cars with the Highest Share of 2020 Inventory (iSeeCars Study)|
|Rank||Vehicle||% 2020 Inventory|
|3||Chevrolet Bolt EV||68.9%|
|5||Ford Expedition Max||59.2%|
|6||Hyundai Santa Fe||57.7%|
|14||Honda CR-V Hybrid||44.9%|
|20||Ram Pickup1500 Classic||37.5%|
|22||Toyota Camry Hybrid||34.8%|
Five additional Ford vehicles make the list including the second-ranked EcoSport, the fourth-ranked Expedition, the fifth-ranked Expedition Max, the eighth-ranked Ford Ranger, and the sixteenth-ranked Ford F-150. “The 2021 Ford EcoSport did not arrive at dealerships until late 2020, and the Expedition and Expedition Max saw decreases in sales in 2020 over 2019, creating a surplus of 2020 vehicles,” said Brauer. “The Ford Ranger could not keep up with demand for much of 2020 due to pandemic-related production shortages, causing declines in availability and sales, while the Ford F-150 had a highly-anticipated redesign for 2021, likely lowering demand for 2020 models.”
Ranked third is the Chevrolet Bolt EV with 2020 model year vehicles comprising 68.9 percent of its new car inventory. “The Bolt had an impressive 26 percent increase in sales in 2020 over 2019, but still has a surplus of 2020 inventory,” said Brauer. “Dealers really want to move these outgoing model year vehicles and are steeply discounting them with up to $14,000 in incentives currently being offered.”
Additional crossovers from General Motors make the list including the tenth-ranked Buick Envision and the eleventh-ranked Chevrolet Trax. “The Buick Envision was redesigned for 2021 but has limited inventory due to the first models arriving at dealerships in December,” said Brauer. “Chevrolet is cutting production of the Trax to keep up with demand for the new Trailblazer, which likely cannibalized Trax demand over the past year.”
Ranked sixth is the Hyundai Santa Fe, which has 57.7 percent of its new car inventory from the 2020 model year. “The Hyundai Santa Fe saw more than a 20 percent decrease in sales in 2020 compared to 2019,” said Brauer. “The 2021 Santa Fe was fully redesigned, taking design cues from the highly successful Palisade while pulling demand from the 2020 model.”
Ranked seventh is the Chrysler 300, joined by three additional Fiat Chrysler models including the ninth-ranked Dodge Charger, the twelfth-ranked Dodge Challenger, and the seventeenth-ranked Chrysler Pacifica. “Built on the same platform, the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger each saw a decrease in sales in 2020. The in-demand Challenger was one of the models most impacted by the pandemic for inventory shortages, yet plenty of 2020 models remain for buyers seeking this model,” said Brauer. “The Pacifica was redesigned for 2021 to include more advanced safety features and all-wheel drive on its Pinnacle Trim, causing some buyers to pass on the 2020 model in anticipation of the new version.”
Three Nissans make the list including the thirteenth-ranked Nissan Murano, the fifteenth-ranked Nissan Sentra, and the eighteenth-ranked Nissan Versa. “The Nissan Murano sold nearly 15 percent fewer vehicles in 2020 over 2019, and while its a solid SUV it appears dated among its competition, having not been redesigned since 2015,” said Brauer. “Nissan is offering the same cashback deals for its 2020 and 2021 Versas and is advertising leasing deals for the 2021 Sentras, so buyers don’t have much of an incentive to buy the older models.”
Three Hondas make the list including the fourteenth-ranked Honda CR-V Hybrid, its non-hybrid variant the twenty-first ranked CR-V, and the twenty third-ranked Honda Civic. “The Honda CR-V Hybrid was new for 2020, but its higher purchase price hurt sales against the standard model.,” said Brauer. “The gasoline-powered CR-V saw a 13 percent decrease in sales in 2020, and the Civic saw a 19 percent drop, contributing to their surplus.” An additional hybrid ranks twenty-second, the Toyota Camry Hybrid. “Toyota has a lean approach to inventory, which is likely why only one vehicle makes the list,” added Brauer. “The Camry Hybrid saw an increase in sales in 2020, though not enough to keep up with growing dealer inventory.”.”
An additional compact car, the Volkswagen Jetta ranks nineteenth. “The Volkswagen Jetta saw a 17 percent decrease in sales in 2020, likely due to the pandemic and strong competition in the segment,” said Brauer.
Ranked twentieth is the Ram 1500 Classic. “The Ram 1500 Classic was one of the few pickup truck models that wasn’t scarce during the pandemic, confirming the truck isn’t as in high demand as its competitors,” said Brauer.
Rounding out the list is the twenty fourth-ranked BMW X5. “The BMW X5 is one of the top-rated SUVs in the popular midsize luxury SUV segment, and buyers can get up to $6,000 off MSRP on a 2020 version,” said Brauer.
Car Brands with the Highest Share of 2020 InventoryiSeeCars also analyzed which vehicle brands had the highest share of 2020 vehicles in their new car inventory. Nine brands have 2020 inventory levels above the 22.5 percent average for all vehicles.
|Vehicle Brands With the Most Excess 2020 Inventory - iSeeCars|
|Rank||Brand||% 2020 Inventory|
Two Stellantis brands earn the next two spots, Chrysler in second and Dodge in third. “Chrysler and Dodge had significant sales declines in 2020 compared to 2019 partly due to a decline in fleet orders from rental car companies,” said Brauer.
Two brands from General Motors make the list, Buick in fourth and Chevrolet in ninth. “The limited inventory of the 2021 Envision, as well as above-average 2020 inventory levels for the Enclave and Encore SUVs, contribute to the brand’s surplus of 2020 model year vehicles,” said Brauer. “Chevrolet is just above average, and its Silverado 1500 and Colorado pickup trucks have low levels of 2020 inventory to almost balance out the 2020 surpluses of the Bolt EV and the Trax.”
When purchasing a new vehicle, shoppers should compare prices of 2021 and 2020 versions to see which offer the best deal. “A surplus of vehicles from the 2020 model year might remain on dealer lots because a car’s popularity is declining, because car buyers want to wait for an upcoming redesign, or because similar, more competitive models are available,” said Brauer. “Additionally, there are many 2021 vehicles that are just starting to arrive on dealer lots, meaning there will likely be more savings opportunities as dealers receive additional new car inventory.”
iSeeCars.com analyzed over 700,000 new cars listed for sale as of January 29, 2021. The share of each model from the 2020 model year was used to rank them. Heavy-duty trucks, lower-volume models, and cars that did not have a large amount of 2021 inventory available were excluded from further analysis.