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US car sales to plunge for 7th consecutive month

2017-08-03 10:20

Image: Supplied

Detroit-  US sales of new cars and trucks showed declines in July as automakers cut back on low-profit rental car sales and consumers waited for Labor Day deals.

July was likely the seventh straight month of lower sales. Analysts have been predicting lower U.S. sales this year as demand levels out after an unprecedented seven straight years of growth.

General Motors said its sales fell 15% in July, while Ford's sales were down 7.5%. Both companies cut sales to rental and corporate fleets. Fiat Chrysler's sales were down 10%. Volkswagen's sales were down 5.8%, while Nissan's sales fell 3 percent. Honda's sales were down 1.2%.

Close to 18-million cars sold in US in 2016

At least two automakers bucked the trend. Toyota's sales rose 3.6% while Subaru's were up 7%.

US new vehicle sales hit a record 17.55-million last year. July's pace would put annual sales at 16.5 or 16.6-million, said Alec Gutierrez, a senior market analyst with the car shopping site Kelley Blue Book. That was lower than he expected, but not enough to change his full-year forecast of 17.1-million sales, he said.

Mark LaNeve, Ford's US sales chief, said automakers have been preparing for a dip in US sales, but July was likely a blip and not an acceleration of that trend. He said GM's decision to cut sales to rental-car fleets by 81% — or 11 200 vehicles — was a big factor. Ford also cut fleet sales by 26%, and it had to stop sales of its Transit commercial van for a few weeks while it performed a recall.

"We're still operating at a very high level," said Mark LaNeve, Ford's US sales chief.

Breakdown of US sales

General Motors:  said its sales fell 15.4% to 226107. The automaker saw double-digit percent declines at GMC, Chevrolet, Cadillac and Buick. Sales of GM's best seller, the Chevrolet Silverado pickup, dropped 15%.

Toyota's sales rose 3.6% to 222 057. Toyota and Lexus trucks and SUVs climbed 17% but cars struggled. Sales of the Toyota Prius hybrid fell 26 percent.

Ford said its sales dropped 7.5% to 200 212. Ford's SUV sales were up 2% but car sales dropped 19 percent. Sales of Ford's best seller, the F-Series pickup, rose 5.8%.

Fiat Chrysler's sales fell 10% to 161 477. Its Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge and Fiat brands all saw declines, but Alfa Romeo sales were up thanks to the new Giulia sedan. Ram truck sales were flat.

Honda's sales slid 1.2% to 150 980. Honda saw the reverse of most automakers: Its Civic small car saw sales rise 11% while sales of the CR-V SUV fell 12% despite a recent redesign. Acura luxury sales were up 4%.

Nissan's sales fell 3.2% to 128 295. Sales of Nissan's redesigned Titan pickup truck more than tripled, and Infiniti luxury brand sales were up. But the company's car sales dropped 11%.

Subaru brand sales gained 6.9% to 55 703. Subaru's best-seller, the Outback SUV, was up 20%.

Volkswagen brand sales fell 5.8% to 27 091 as dealers sold off older Tiguan SUVs and started getting 2018 models on their lots. Sales of the Golf SportWagen were up 87% , but that wasn't enough to offset falling car sales.


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