Despite a Government shutdown that lasted almost the entire month and severe weather in the Midwest that kept consumers away from auto dealerships, light vehicle sales in the U.S. declined just 1% in January, according to estimates from AutoNews.
Figures analyzed by the automotive website revealed that during the past month, higher than expected sales of fleet vehicles offset the low volume of deliveries in the retail market.
Total sales in the U.S. were of 1,146,972 units, down from 1,159,119 vehicles sold during the same month of 2018.
The seasonally adjusted, annualized rate of sales (SAARS) for January were 16.9 million, down from 17.22 million during the same month of 2018 and 17.72 million in last December. It was the first month the pace of sales dropped below 17 million since August 2018.
“Record cold weather during the last week of January likely had a negative impact on sales. However, it was not just the weather. We also believe the government shutdown had an impact, from delayed purchases by furloughed workers to a more general feeling of uncertainty in the market,” said in a note Charlie Chesbrough, Senior Economist at Cox Automotive.
Just like General Motors, Ford Motor Co. stopped posting monthly sales figures starting January to release instead quarterly reports. However, leaked reports indicate that sales of the Dearborn, Michigan automaker went up 7.1%, while GM deliveries dropped 6.9%. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles posted a 2.5% increase.
Among Japanese automakers Nissan and Mazda were two of the worst performers, reporting 19.7% and 18.5% drops respectively, while Toyota saw its deliveries decline 6.6%. On the other hand, Honda posted a 1.5% gain.
Korean brands Hyundai and KIA reported sales increases of 1.9% and 4.9% respectively. Meanwhile, German carmaker Volkswagen posted a 6.7% decrease.
On the premium market BMW posted a 6.3% decline due in great part to a 16.3% decrease of its brand Mini, while Mercedes-Benz saw its deliveries sink 13.8%. Audi also posted a 1.8% drop.
January is traditionally one of the weakest months of the year for auto sales. The disproportionate end-of-year market activity that occurs in the holiday season slows dramatically at the start of each year.
The U.S. represents the main destination for Mexico automotive exports. United States auto imports from Mexico totaled 2,566,701 units in 2018, representing a 9.9% rise versus 2017 figures and accounting for 74.4% of total shipments. The market share of Mexico-made vehicles in the U.S. was of 14.8% in 2018.