US auto sales fall 7% in July; SUVs and pickups still on strong demand

US auto sales fall 7% in July; SUVs and pickups still on strong demand

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Sales of new cars and trucks in the U.S. market dropped 7% to 1.4 million units in July. It was the seventh straight month of sales decline and the biggest fall in this year, according to figures by Autodata Corp.

Sales of Detroit automakers fell more than expected. When compared to the same month a year ago, General Motors sales sank 15.4%, the largest decline of the Detroit Three. The declines affected all GM brands, but the company noted that crossovers and trucks accounted for 80% of sales “for the company’s best monthly mix ever."

Ford Motor Co.’s sales slid 7.5% from 216,479 to 200,212 units. The Ford brand fell 7.7% and Lincoln brand fell 2.5%. The Dearborn automaker reported drops of 19% in car sales but a 2.2% increase in SUV sales. Among the noteworthy changes were F-series trucks up 5.8% and the Fusion sedan down 42%.

Sales at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles fell 10% to 161,477 vehicles, compared to 180,389 units in July 2016, with most of its brands performing negatively. Jeep dropped 12%, Chrysler was down 30%, Dodge fell 12%, Ram was flat and Fiat fell 18%. Despite Jeep's sales decline, the brand posted an 8% increase for the Mexico-made Jeep Compass.

Overall the declines for the Detroit Three were larger than analysts expected. The companies blamed the drops on lower fleet sales, but GM’s retail sales fell 14.4% if compared to July 2016. Meanwhile, Ford and Fiat Chrysler retail sales had single-digit declines, but their fleet sales fell by 26% and 35%, respectively.

Out of the Japanese Big Three, Toyota Motor Corp.'s was the only automaker that posted gains with a 3.6% increase to 222,057 vehicles. Toyota and Lexus trucks and SUVs climbed 17% but cars declined 11.5%. Leading the way was the RAV4 crossover, which hit an all-time monthly sales record of 41,804 units, up 31.1% for the month. Meanwhile, sales of the Toyota Prius hybrid fell 26%.

Honda Motor Co.'s sales slid 1.2% to 150,980 vehicles with sales of the Civic climbing 11% while sales of the CR-V SUV fell 12%, which is losing market to the Nissan Rogue.

Nissan Motor Co.'s sales fell 3.2% to 128,295 units. SUVs and pickup trucks recorded a 5.3% increase, but sales of passenger cars declined 11.2%. The Nissan brand fell 4.1%, while the Infiniti lineup increased 9%.

Korean automaker Hyundai's sales plummeted 27.9% to 54,063 vehicles. Sales of its Tucson SUV rose 31% as the company continued to reduce its previously heavy reliance on fleet sales. Sister brand Kia's sales fell 5.9% for the month.

Volkswagen brand sales fell 5.8% to 27,091 units as dealers struggle to sold off older Tiguan SUVs and started to get the all-new, Mexico-made 2018 model into their lots.


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