Auto sales in the US slide less than expected in June amid strong demand for SUVs

Auto sales continued to slide in June for the sixth straight month in the U.S. market as car buyers face higher vehicle prices, according to figures released by each major automaker. The Detroit 3 all reported sales declines while the three biggest Japanese brands posted minimal gains.

American auto dealers sold 1,474,360 cars last month, down 3% compared to the 1,519,249 vehicles sold in June 2016. For the first half of 2017 sales declined 2.1% to 8,452,453 units from 8,636,946 the same period last year. 

Sales for June also declined 3% to a seasonally adjusted level of 16.51 million units. The figure is significantly below the level of 17 million achieved in 2015 and 2016. Additionally, it is the lowest level experienced since Feb 2015 and represents a 2% year-over-year decline.

For June, most analysts’ firms including JD Power, Edmunds.com, Kelley Blue Book and LMC Automotive had predicted sales will fall between 2% and 4%..

GM’s sales fell 4.7% to 243,155 vehicles in June compared with the same period in 2016, while Ford’s sales totaled 227,979 vehicles, down 5.1%. Fiat Chrysler’s sales slumped 7% to 187,348 vehicles.

Honda Motor Co. reported a 1% increase compared with the previous June with 139,793 vehicles sold, Nissan Motor Co. sold 143,328 vehicles, or 2% more than the prior year, and Toyota Motor Corp. notched a 2.1% gain, with 202,376 vehicles sold.

Things were even worst for the two mayor Korean automakers that reported two-digit drops, 10.8% for Kia and 19% for Hyundai.

But even with fewer sales, most major automakers reported better figures than analysts had estimated, as demand for roomier SUVs and pickup trucks remained strong.

U.S. buyers continued a trend they’ve been following for years, purchasing SUVs and trucks and shunning cars. Car sales fell 13% in June while trucks and SUVs rose 4%, according to Autodata Corp. Trucks and SUVs accounted for 63% of sales last month. Just five years ago they were less than half.

GM said sales of SUVs and crossovers increased by 22%, with the Chevrolet Equinox gaining 36% and the Traverse SUV skyrocketing 71% for the month.

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