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Lower Interest in Passenger Vehicles Brings Down U.S. Auto Sales

March 6, 2018 0 Comments

While increased sales for crossovers, SUVs, and pickup trucks have made up the difference for lower passenger car sales, it wasn’t enough last month.

Analysts at Edmunds.com and Cox Automotive projected the overall sales for February at a decline of 4.1 percent and 4 percent, respectively, compared to last year.

Most of the expected drop lies in the declining interest in compact cars, midsize sedans, and full-size cars. As design shifts to roomier rides and steady, low gas prices, customers are leaning towards bigger vehicles.

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“Automakers are slowing production of passenger cars to react to declining demand, and are also trying to find the right balance between keeping sales strong and becoming too dependent on costly incentives,” said Edmunds executive director of industry analysis Jessica Caldwell.

This is not necessarily terrible news for the industry, as the poor-sellers are the least profitable models.

Plus, the interest in larger, more profitable vehicles remains high. Analysts expect auto sales in 2018 to stay strong “form a historical perspective,” but sales will probably be down from 2017 and won’t threaten the full-year record of 17.6 million vehicles from 2016.

“The industry is still in a fairly healthy place,” Caldwell said, “but it may not feel like it since the last few years have been in record territory.”

Here’s how major automakers fared last month.

General Motors

  • Edmunds: -3%
  • Cox Automotive forecast: -5.2%
  • Actual results: -6.9%
  • Vehicles sold: 220,905
  • Brands
    • Chevrolet: -8.8%
    • GMC: -8%
    • Cadillac: +14%
    • Buick: +1.2%
  • Overall sales: -10%

Ford Motor

  • Edmunds forecast: -6%
  • Cox Automotive forecast: -6%
  • Actual results: -6.9%
  • Vehicles sold: 194,132
  • Retail customer sales: -8.5%
  • Fleet customer sales: -3.8%
  • Brands
    • Ford: -6.1%
    • Lincoln: -23.6%
  • Passenger car sales: -12.1%
  • SUV sales: -12.3%
  • F-Series pickups: +3.5% to 68,243 vehicles

Fiat Chrysler

  • Edmunds forecast: -12.6%
  • Cox Automotive forecast: -7.9%
  • Actual results: -1.4%
  • Vehicles sold in U.S.: 165,903 vehicles
  • Brands
    • Jeep: +12.3%
    • Ram: -14.1%
    • Chrysler: -3.4%
    • Dodge: -8.4%
    • Fiat: -42.1%

Toyota

  • Edmunds forecast: 0%
  • Cox Automotive forecast: -2.5%
  • Actual results: 4.5%
  • Vehicles sold: 182,195
  • Crossover/SUV/pickup truck sales: +10.5%
  • Passenger car sales: -3.1%, despite the redesigned Camry (+12.2%)
  • Brands
    • Toyota: +4.4%
    • Lexus: +5.1%

Nissan

  • Edmunds forecast: -4.9%
  • Cox Automotive forecast: -1.3%
  • Actual results: -4.3%
  • Vehicles sold: 129,930
  • Brands
    • Nissan: -4%
    • Infiniti: -6.7%
  • Passenger car sales: -15.1%
  • Crossover/SUV/pickup sales: +5.6%
    • The Rogue crossover continued its hot streak (sales +15% to 38,119)
    • Full-size Titan pickup up 25.9 percent (3,761 units)
    • Mid-size Frontier up 68.8% (7,992 units)

Honda

  • Edmunds forecast: -3.5%
  • Cox Automotive forecast: -0.6%
  • Actual results: -5%
  • Vehicles sold: 115,557
  • Brands
    • Honda: -5.6%
    • Acura: +1%
  • Passenger car sales: -6.9%
    • Accord: -15.8%
    • Civic: -4.5%
  • Pilot SUV: +48.9% (12,056 units)

Volkswagen Group

  • Edmunds forecast: 2.9% (not including Porsche brand)
  • Cox Automotive forecast: 5.8% (including Porsche brand)
  • Brands
    • Volkswagen: +6%
    • Audi: +12.4%
    • Porsche: +20.5%

Hyundai-Kia

  • Edmunds forecast: -5.7%
  • Cox Automotive forecast: -0.7%
  • Actual results: Not yet reported

Subaru

  • Edmunds forecast: (not provided)
  • Cox Automotive forecast: -1.1%
  • Actual results: 3.8%
  • Vehicles sold: 47,249, making it the best-ever February for the automaker
  • Best-seller in February: Outback (+4% to 14,021)

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