Auto sales fall in the U.S. market during May for the fifth straight month

Automakers posted in May for the fifth straight month a sales decline compared to the same month a year ago, bolstering expectations for the first annual sales decline since 2009. Auto sales fell 0.5% during May in the United States to 1.52 million, despite an extra selling day compared to a year ago, according to Autodata Corp.

Year-to-date sales are down 2% through the first five months of the year, prompting analysts to lower their forecasts that now appear will fall short of last year’s 17.47 million units record.

Passenger cars represented just 38.4% of industry sales last month, down from 42.2% in May 2016. Truck sales including SUVs, rose 6% to represent 61.6% of industry sales last month.

General Motors Co. sales were down 1.3% at 237,364 vehicles. The automaker said its car sales fell 11.5% year-over-year, while truck sales slipped 3.7%. Crossover sales increased 15% from the same month a year ago.

Meanwhile, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV reported a 0.9% drop with sales of 193,040 units. FCA saw mixed results across its lineup. Jeep sales dropped 14.7%, while Ram Trucks jumped 18.2%. The Chrysler brand sales dropped 1.8%, while Dodge rose 8.4%. Fiat sales dipped 15.8%.

Ford Motor Co. posted a 2.3% sales increase at 240,250 units, surprising some analysts.

Ford attributed the gain in part to an increase in fleet sales, including a 2.7% increase in sales to rental car companies from May 2016.

Ford said its truck sales rose 9.4% in the month, while SUV sales increased 4.3% and car sales slid 10%. F-Series truck sales totaled 76,027 last month, up 12.8% from May 2016. It marked the best May results in 13 years.

Toyota Motor Corp. sales edged down 0.5% year over year to 218,248 vehicles, with sales on a daily selling rate down a steeper 3.9%, given that 2017 had an extra selling day over 2016.

Honda Motor Co Ltd reported year-over-year sales growth of 0.9% to 148,414 Honda and Acura vehicles. Truck sales were up 5.9%, while car sales declined 3.6%.

Nissan Motor Co Ltd said its sales fell 1.5% to 121,998 units, with Infiniti sales rising 3.5%, while the Nissan division sales fell 2%.

Lower expectations

Some industry analysts are lowering predictions for the year, like Tom Libby, an industry analyst with IHS Markit, who said although economic fundamentals such as unemployment, consumer confidence, gas prices and interest rates all look good, sales still will fall this year because demand for new cars has been satisfied and many people have decided to keep their automobiles longer.

IHS Markit reduced its full-year sales forecast for 2017 from 17.4 million to 17.3 million. LMC Automotive and J.D. Power also lowered their forecast, to 17.2 million from 17.5 million.

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