US auto sales decline 0.2% in August signaling lower demand for second half of 2018
U.S. auto sales slightly declined in August 0.2% to 1.48 million vehicles as the growing demand of pickups, crossovers and SUVs couldn’t offset the lack of interest for passenger cars. Year-to-date sales through August are now of 11.47 million vehicles, which is still a 1.1% gain compared to the same eight-month period of last year.
However, the fact that last month’s sales could not exceed those of August 2017, when a hurricane stalled markets in the Houston area and Florida, shows that during the second half of the year the market will cool down, resulting in the second annual sales decline in a row.
According to AutoNews, the seasonally adjusted, annualized rate (SAAR) was 16.69 million vehicles in August, the lowest in a year. The SAAR was 16.58 million in August 2017 and 16.73 million last July. Until July, the SAAR had topped 17 million every month dating back to August 2017.
Among the Detroit 3 it was Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) which performed best with a 10% increase boosted by both the Jeep and RAM brands. Ford posted a 4.1% gain in sales due to a strong demand of pickups and SUVs.
In the case of General Motors, which no longer reports monthly sales, deliveries fell about 13% as the automaker pulled back on sales incentives, especially for full-size pickups, Bloomberg reported citing “people familiar with the matter” as sources.
Japanese automakers also posted mixed results. While sales dropped 2% at Toyota Motor on weaker car demand, Honda saw a 1.3% gain boosted in part by its Acura brand. At Nissan, volume rose 3.7% behind a 4.4% gain at the Nissan division and a 1.7% decline at Infiniti.
Korean automaker KIA posted flat results to 53,864 units, barely 500-plus more vehicles than last year. Its sister brand Hyundai posted a 6% increase on sales of 57,542 units.
Volkswagen reported sales of 32,255 units, an increase of 0.7 percent over August 2017.
Among premium automakers Audi posted a 5.5% gain on strong demand of Q5 and Q7 SUVs, but also that of the A4 sedan. On the other hand, Mercedes-Benz saw its sales decline 19.8% to 20,339 units. BMW posted a 1% increase on 23,789 vehicles.
The U.S. market is destination to 71.6% of Mexico’s auto exports. During the first quarter of 2018 598,028 units were shipped to the United States. Such figure represents 14.6% of total U.S. sales during that period.