Published: Sat, March 04, 2017
Technology | By Timothy Carter

Americans buy more trucks, SUVs in February

Americans buy more trucks, SUVs in February

USA light-vehicle sales dropped 1.1% in February after sales of SUVs and trucks couldn't offset the drop in passenger-car demand.

Dow industrials component General Motors' total sales climbed 4% to 237,388 vehicles, below Edmunds forecasts for 240,795, though beating some estimates. Industry forecasting firm ALG said predicted sales would fall 1.4 percent to 1.3 million. Not to be outdone, Ford's bread-and-butter product, the F-Series full-size truck, posted a sales increase of 9% to almost 66,000 units.

During a historically weaker month, Ford's sales dropped 4% and checked in roughly a couple of hundred units below Edmunds' forecast. GM beat most analysts' expectations with a 4.2 percent gain in new vehicle sales.

There are a couple of interesting takeaways from Ford's overall sales mix. Cadillac and Buick brand sales were down, but Chevrolet and GMC saw increases on strong demand for trucks, SUVs and commercial vans.

At Nissan, sales of crossovers, sport-utility vehicles and trucks led the way, rising 22%. Ford sold almost 69,000 SUVs - a February record.

Looking at FCA's brands, Jeep checked in with another disappointing month despite its top-selling product, the Grand Cherokee, recording an 11% sales gain to 18,925 units. "Midsize cars, in particular, continue to drop by double digits, and, in some cases, despite hefty incentives", said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst for AutoTrader.

Major volume sellers Ford, Fiat Chrysler and Toyota all posted year-over-year losses of 8,600 or more.

With 122,000 sales, a 1.2 percent increase from last year, Nissan held onto the hot streak it road through 2016 to the title of fastest-growing brand in the U.S. Top-sellers for the Japanese brand were the Titan pickup truck and the Armada full-size pickup, which share a common platform and were both redesigned for the 2016 model year. After a seven-year stretch of sales increases - and record US sales in 2016 - demand is starting to slow.

The overall US auto market was expected to see a 1 percent decline in sales for the month, according to the GM statement. Automakers want to hold on to their share of that market and avoid expensive cutbacks in auto production.

GM says its ATPs overall rose $570 per unit to $34,900, a February record.

He said economic indicators remain favorable for the industry - low unemployment, consumer confidence at a 15-year high and a flourishing stock market. Sales of the Chevrolet Silverado pickup jumped 17 percent from last February to more than 50,500 trucks, while Ford sold almost 69,000 SUVs — a February record. However, part of the driving force was a large jump in incentive spending by General Motors, according to J.D. Power data made available to The Motley Fool.

For the second time in as many months, the automotive industry has posted a year-over-year decline in sales, adding further evidence that demand has plateaued after back-to-back years of record deliveries.

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