New York (AFP) – US auto sales offered a mixed picture in November, with Ford reporting an increase but GM and Fiat Chrysler posting declines, according to monthly sales data released Friday.
The major Japanese automakers also were split, with Honda and Nissan posting strong sales increases, while a gain in light trucks for Toyota was not enough to offset a steep drop in sales of cars.
The pace of sales also fell sharply for electric automaker Tesla.
Analysts said the varied results last month came as average prices hit all-time highs and US demand for autos may have peaked. After a multi-year boom in auto sales, carmakers expected the market to slow this year compared with the record-setting 2016.
Edmunds analyst Jeremy Acevedo said highly popular SUVs once again have driven sales in 2017.
“Consumers have proven time and time again this year that they’re not afraid of the bigger price tags, higher APRs and longer loan terms,” he said in a statement.
Indeed, Ford’s 6.7 percent sales increase compared with November 2016 was driven by solid jumps in sport utility vehicles and trucks — including the best showing for the market-leading F-Series truck since 2000 — although the company also saw higher sales of sedans.
Total sales at the US number-two automaker came in at 210,771 vehicles, slightly better than the forecast by Edmunds.
But at GM, sales fell to 245,387 vehicles, down 2.9 percent from a year ago and far short of Edmunds’ forecast for a 1.8 percent gain. The company said deliveries to rental companies were much lower.
– Peaking demand? –
Sales of many larger “crossover” vehicles increased, however, and the biggest US carmaker said it was optimistic that an improving US economy would keep consumption high.
“Employment continues to grow at a solid pace, wage growth will accelerate and consumer confidence just hit a 17-year high, so industry sales should remain strong,” said GM chief economist Mustafa Mohatarem.
In a report on Wednesday, however, ratings agency Fitch said the US auto market has peaked, and annual sales would plateau in the mid 16 million to low 17 million range for “an extended period.”
At FCA, retail sales rose two percent, but as with GM, its overall results were hit by a decline in sales to rental companies. Total sales dropped four percent to 154,919 vehicles, a bit below the Edmunds projection.
Sales fell three percent at Toyota 191,617 vehicles, weighed down by 10.1 percent decline in cars, even as light trucks, such as the popular RAV4,…