Wed, Jul 05, 2017 - Page 10 News List

US car sales mark sixth straight monthly contraction

POST-PEAK PHASE:After record sales of 17.55 million last year, car sales have slowed this year. GM and Ford posted declines, but Japanese makers eked out gains

AFP, WASHINGTON

US car sales continued to ebb last month, marking the sixth straight monthly decline, even as appetite for larger sport utility vehicles (SUV) and light trucks persisted, industry figures released on Monday showed.

Industrywide, sales last month dropped 3 percent from May and from the same month last year, Autodata figures showed.

The sales pace amounted to an annual rate of 16.51 million units, seasonally adjusted, down from 16.8 million this time last year.

“June sales numbers reaffirm we’re in what we call a post-peak phase,”Autotrader executive analyst Michelle Krebs told reporters.

“We still think the market’s on track for a pretty strong year, but certainly below the past,” Krebs said.

Sales last year were a record 17.55 million.

General Motors (GM), the nation’s largest automaker, and Ford reported total sales fell about 5 percent for the month, with GM down for the second month in a row.

The US division of Fiat Chrysler fell 7.4 percent for the month

The shifting composition of the market was again clear: Midsize vehicle sales fell 18 percent and compact cars dropped 6 percent, Alec Gutierrez of Kelley Blue Book said.

However, full-size pickups rose 4 percent, and SUVs and crossover vehicles rose as much as 10 percent, Gutierrez told reporters.

GM said sales of SUVs and crossovers jumped 22 percent, with the Chevrolet Equinox gaining 36 percent and the Traverse SUV soaring 71 percent for the month.

Toyota said its luxury Lexus brand fell 5.4 percent last month, but sales were boosted by the SUV segment.

“The auto industry has cooled off compared to last year’s record-breaking pace,” Jack Hollis, general manager of the Toyota brand, said in a statement.

Still, Gutierrez said that with low unemployment, high consumer confidence and equities markets performing well, the shape of the economy pointed to continued strong sales.

Krebs also said automakers were showing “discipline,” easing away from leasing, subprime lending, discounts and incentives to boost sales.

“The financial houses of the automakers are in pretty good shape,” she said. “We don’t see any kind of crazy imbalances.”

Japanese automakers eked out sales increases, with Toyota rebounding to post a monthly gain of 2.1 percent, though that still was below last year’s pace.

Nissan also bucked the trend, rising 2.1 percent, while Honda gained 0.8 percent over June last year.

German auto giant Volkswagen, which earlier this year announced the start of a major push into the US market as it emerges from a global emissions scandal, continued to see strong sales, gaining 15 percent for the month.

However, volume remained small, with just over 27,000 Volkswagens sold.

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