Auto sales fall in U.S. market during March as preference for SUVs increases
Contrary to most forecasts, auto sales in the U.S. market slowed to 1.56 million new cars and trucks during March, a 1.6% decline compared with the same month a year ago. Most analysts had expected sales figures to be above 1.62 million new cars and trucks or a 2.2% increase.
At annualized rate, auto dealers sold 16.6 million cars and trucks in the last 12 months, slightly less than 16.7 million from a year earlier, according to researcher Autodata Corp. Analysts had projected the pace would accelerate to about 17.2 million.
Kia Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. reported some of the biggest declines, after heavy incentive spending failed to contain plunging demand for sedan and compact models.
Combined deliveries for Kia and its affiliate Hyundai Motor Co. fell 11%, and Ford’s dropped 7.2% last month, bigger decreases than analysts estimated. General Motors Co., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Toyota Motor Corp. also fell short of expectations.
In March, car sales only accounted for 39% of total industry sales.
Strong discounts were unable to increase demand for sedans like GM’s Chevrolet Malibu and the built-in-Hermosillo Ford Fusion, which are being surpassed by crossovers as the new American family vehicle of choice. Deliveries of those models each plunged by more than 35% in March.
Deliveries of the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, longtime leaders in the mid-size sedan segment, dropped 3.6% and 12%, respectively.
Toyota’s car sales tumbled 9.9% to 97,703 units. Sales of sport-utility vehicles, crossovers and pickup trucks increased 5.5% to 117,521, reflecting a record March.
Honda’s car sales fell 8.7% to 67,342 units, while sales of crossovers, sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks increased 8.4% to 69,885.
Like Honda, Nissan’s car sales suffered considerably, falling 15.4%, while sales of SUVs, crossovers and trucks surged 28.8%. Rogue crossover deliveries surged 43% in March, as the model continues to outsell the longtime leader within the segment, Honda’s CR-V.
Overall sales fell 7% for Ford, 5% for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, 0.7% for Honda, 2.1% for Toyota, 8% for Hyundai and 15.2% for Kia and rose 3.6% for BMW, 3.2% for Nissan, 2.6% for Volkswagen, 2.0% for Mercedes-Benz and 1.6% for General Motors