GM Canada auto sales up; Fiat Chrysler, Ford take a hit

GM Canada auto sales up; Fiat Chrysler, Ford take a hit”

According to Autodata Corp, which tracks market sales, the seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of US auto and light truck sales in December dropped to 17.9 million units from 18.2 million in December 2016. According Autodata, 2017 full-year sales hit 17.23 million units, down almost 2 per cent from an all-time U.S. record of 17.55 million units in 2016.

Ford's sales fell 1.1 percent to 2.6 million compared to 2016, but it reported a surprise increase in December, fueled in part by the continued success of the F-Series pickups and other large vehicles.

However, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, reported a fall in monthly and yearly sales, hurt by a lower demand for its Jeep and Dodge branded vehicles. Cadillac and Lexus both saw their sales drop 8 percent a year ago; Lincoln sales plummeted 17 percent in December.

"I'm actually surprised the industry was as strong as it was, we had some pretty severe weather, bitterly cold in much of the country", Mark LaNeve, Ford's USA sales chief, said on a call with analysts and reporters.

Truck sales dipped 1% for the month, and sales of F-Series pickups increased by 2.1%. But the influx of late-model used cars coming back on the market could also cut into sales of new vehicles. For the year, the company reported good news with total sales for 2017 increasing by 5.2% compared with 2016.

"It's still a buoyant industry and the underlying factors that drive it are still very positive", Ford's US sales chief, Mark LaNeve, said.

A few automakers say luxury sales have struggled.

Ford's USA sales rose 0.9 percent in December, fueled by 89,385 F-Series pickup trucks. But most other automakers saw declines.

Sales at Toyota's Lexus brand fell 13.9 percent.

GM also published its December sales figures Wednesday, which showed total sales were 2% up on the same month in 2016.

And, the United States auto industry continues to enjoy strong demand for larger vehicles, including SUVs, pickup trucks and "crossover" models. Honda division saw its sales drop last month by 6.3%, but came in with a 0.7% jump for all of 2017. SUV sales fell 12% year over year in December. "This year, many consumers will see their take-home pay rise because of tax reform. That will keep the broad economy growing, and help keep sales at very healthy levels even as the Fed increases interest rates", Mohatarem added.

The winning streak "was the result of pent-up demand after the recession that's finally just running out", said Tim Fleming, an analyst at Kelley Blue Book.

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