This is how auto sales ended up in the NAFTA region during March
Beating up all expectations, U.S. auto dealers sold more than 1.65 million new vehicles in March, a 6.3% jump compared with a year earlier, according to Autodata Corp. That easily outpaced analysts’ forecasts, like the 3% increase from Edmunds.com and a 2.6% rise from Cox Automotive.
The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) ended up at 17.49 million. This is the seventh straight month the figure surpasses 17 million units.
The increasing demand of light trucks felt stronger last month with sales of trucks and SUVs hiking 16.3% while car sales plunged 9.2%, Autodata figures show. Nearly two-thirds of all vehicles sold were trucks or SUVs.
The U.S. market is the main destination of Mexico’s auto exports representing more than 70% of total. According to Wards Auto, Mexico-made vehicles currently account for around of 15% total U.S. auto sales.
High interest and inflation rates, as well as the Easter holiday, which last year was held in April, were the main factor that contributed to the steep fall of 13.4% in auto sales in Mexico during March, totaling 118,600 units, according to data from the Mexican Auto Dealers Association (AMDA). Auto sales during the first quarter were of 337,229 vehicles, which represents a decrease of 10.8% compared to the same period of the previous year.
According to Guillermo Rosales, head of AMDA, due to its religious relevance, the Easter holiday represents up to five less days of sales for auto dealers in Mexico.
Sales of cars and light trucks in Canada were down 0.6% in March compared with the same month last year, according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants. The total number of vehicles sold in March was 186,447, the second-highest for the month since at least 2011, but down from 187,540 in March 2017.
DesRosiers said sales of passenger cars fell 12.4% to 53,932 units, while sales of light trucks rose 5.2% to 132,515 pickups and SUVs.
General Motors performed relatively well compared with the other Detroit-based manufacturers, selling 30,159 vehicles, a slight increase of 0.1% from March 2017. By contrast, Ford’s sales were down 1.6% to 26,050 units, while Fiat Chrysler’s dropped 7.7% to 24,490.
But sales of Toyota-branded vehicles were up 9.7% to 18,954, and sales of European brands Volvo, Volkswagen and its luxury affiliate Audi were up by double-digits from smaller bases.
Canada is the second most important destination for Mexico’s auto exports with 38,949 vehicles during the first two months of 2018, accounting for 7.7% of the country’s shipments. However, those figures represent a 5.3% decline if compared to the same period of 2017.