Auto sales in the U.S. market up 1.1% in January

A tax reform, low unemployment and strong consumer confidence helped auto dealers in the U.S. sell 1.15 million vehicles in January, representing a 1% increase compared to same month of 2017, even though heavy snowfalls in the Northeast region kept consumers away from car dealerships for several days. 

However, the seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of U.S. car and light truck sales in January fell to 17.12 million units from 17.44 million a year earlier, according to Autodata Corp.

Average transaction prices were on the rise, according to Kelley Blue Book, which reported the average price of a light vehicle in the U.S. last month was US$ 36,270, a 4% increase over the same period last year. The bump was driven largely by the consumer shift away from cars to more expensive trucks and SUVs. 

Ford Motor Co. sales fell 6.6% to 161,143 vehicles, due in part to a decline in sales to rental car fleets. But its average vehicle sales price hit a record US$ 37,000, largely due to a 1.6% sales increase in the F-Series pickup. 

General Motors Co. saw its sales rose 1% to 198,548 units. GM’s best-seller, the Chevrolet Silverado pickup, saw a 14.5% jump. A new Silverado goes on sale later this year, so GM is discounting the outgoing truck. Several Chevrolet nameplates posted best-ever January sales, including the Equinox, Traverse and Trax.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) sales were down 13% due to reduced sales to fleet buyers. The company sold nearly 133,000 vehicles, led by a 2% increase in Jeep sales. But the Chrysler brand fell 21% while Dodge was off 31% and Fiat dropped 43%. Sales of the Ram truck brand fell 16%.

Toyota Motor Corp. posted a 16.8% increase to 167,056 vehicles on strong demand for the RAV4, Highlander and 4Runner SUVs, which hit January sales records. Despite the strong demand of pickups and SUVs, sales of the revamped Camry midsize car hiked 21.3%.

Nissan Group sales rose 10% to 123,538 units, a January record. Sales were led by the Rogue small SUV, which was up nearly 26% to more than 36,000. Nissan brand sales rose 12% but Infiniti luxury sales dropped 8%.

Honda Motor Co. said sales were down 1.7% to 104,542 vehicles. Truck and SUV sales fell 2.5% while cars were off just under 1%. The CR-V small SUV saw a 16.9% sales drop.

Hyundai Motor Co. sales fell 11.3% from last year’s record January, to 39,629 units. The car-heavy Korean automaker saw Sonata midsize sedan sales tumble 23.7%.

Volkswagen sales were up 5.2% to 24,744. Combined sales of the new Atlas large SUV and Tiguan small SUV hit 10,640, accounting for 43% of VW’s sales.

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