US auto sales in May, stronger than expected

US auto sales in May, stronger than expected

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Despite gas prices nearing US$ 3 a gallon for the first time in years, U.S. auto sales exceeded all expectations with a 4.7% increase during May to 1.59 million vehicles, boosted by a strong job market, light-truck demand and holiday deals. It is the third increase in monthly sales this year.

The seasonally adjusted, annualized sales rate (SAAR) for May totaled 16.91 million, according to Autodata, down from 17.21 million in April, but above estimates by Cox Automotive, J.D. Power and Edmunds. It was the first time the SAAR fell below 17 million since August 2017.

Sales are now up 1.2% from January through May, but most analysts still predict it will be an overall decline in sales volume at the end of year.

Out of the three Detroit automakers, FCA performed the best with sales of 214,294 vehicles for an 11% increase. Retail sales for the month rose 10% to 167,785, making it the highest month since July 2005. Boosted by the strong demand of SUVs, the Jeep brand total sales rose 29% to 97,287 vehicles, making it the best May in the brand’s history.

Ford posted a marginal gain of 0.7% to 242,824 vehicles, but its profitable F-Series pickups saw a 11.3% hike to 84,639 units, marking its best May in 18 years. General Motors no longer reports monthly sales.

Japanese automakers also posted mixed results, Toyota fell 1.3%, Honda rose 3.1% and Nissan declined 5.5%.

Hyundai sold 66,056 vehicles which represented a 10.1% increase. That included the struggling Genesis brand, which fell 38.6% to 1,076 units. Meanwhile, its sister brand Kia sold 59,462 vehicles, up 1.6%.

Volkswagen reported sales of 31,211 units, an increase of 4% over May 2017.

The U.S. market is the main destination for Mexico’s auto exports with 68.1% of total shipments heading to the Northern neighbor during the first quarter, according to the latest figures available from the Mexican Automotive Industry Association (AMIA).

According to Ward’s Auto, Mexico-made vehicles accounted for 14.6% of U.S. auto sales in the first three months of 2018.


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