The U.S. auto industry reported a sales decline in January that was pretty obvious given the fact that there were high incentive in December. However, analysts say that January sales were healthy as the decline was less than what they had expected. Customer confidence, better deals on vehicles and low gasoline prices will raise the demand for vehicles once summer sets.
The seasonally adjusted annualized sales rate stood at 17.6 million vehicles for the month as compared with 17.9 million vehicles from the last year. Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting for LMC Automotive said in a statement, "There is certainly weakness to start off the year." He added, "It's not unexpected given the overheating of sales, thanks to incentives in December." Here's a detailed look at the auto sales of the automakers.
Performance of U.S. automakers
General Motors ( GM ) said that its sales dropped 3.8% to 195,909 vehicles in January. Retail sales plunged 4.9%. Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac witnessed declining sales each. In contrast, GMC brand sales were a bit encouraging. Again, fleet sales surged 1%. Moreover, the Detroit automaker's average transaction price got boosted by $1,200 per unit to $34,500 per unit.
General Motors January sales in the last five years. Source.
The second largest U.S. automaker, Ford ( F ), witnessed a 1% decline to 172,612 units in January. While Ford brand sales plunged 2%, Lincoln luxury brand sold well, up 22% as compared with last year's January. Retail sales spiked 6% to 120,400 vehicles. However, fleet sales declined 13% to 52,212 units. Sales of the company's F-Series pickup truck climbed 12.5%.
Ford Motor January sales in the last five years. Source.
Fiat Chrysler said that its sales plunged 11% in January to 152,218 vehicles. While some of the car models such as Chrysler, Fiat and Dodge brands failed to impress, Ram trucks and JEEP SUV models experienced sales growth. SUV sales for the month were outstanding. Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV surged 24%.
Performance of the other automakers
Toyota ( TM ) saw its January deliveries fall more than 11%. RAV4 and Highlander saw their best ever January sales. In contrast, Toyota division sales plunged 9.2% and Lexus sales dropped 25.6%.
Honda ( HMC ) said that its sales spiked 5.9%, thanks to the solid sales of vehicles and trucks. The company's CR-V SUV contributed more than a quarter towards the total vehicle sales of Honda. While Honda division sales surged 7.7%, Honda truck sales rose 30.2%.
Nissan ( NSANY ) witnessed 6.2% sales growth in January to 112,319 units on the back of strong performance of the carmaker's crossovers, trucks and SUVs. Nissan division sales increased 3.6% and Infinite sales climbed 35.8% to 11,558 vehicles in January.
January is conventionally a slow month for the automakers on account of the severe cold spells in the U.S. Volumes should pick up once the temperature moves up as consumer confidence remains upbeat and gas prices are low. While 2017 is not expected to beat 2016's record sales of 17.55 million vehicles, it is anticipated to be fairly strong. The impending tax cut and increase in infrastructure spending under the new regime should boost the demand for new vehicles.
Disclosure: I do not hold any position in the stocks mentioned in this article.
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