U.S. buyers go big for SUVs, pickups in February
Lured by Presidents Day deals, U.S. buyers snapped up pickups and SUVs in February, brightening what is usually a lackluster month for the auto industry.
Overall sales of new vehicles fell 1 percent from last February to 1.3 million, according to Autodata Corp. But automakers made up the difference with strong sales of more profitable SUV and trucks. Sales of the Chevrolet Silverado pickup jumped 17 percent to more than 50,500 trucks. Ford sold nearly 69,000 SUVs — a February record. Nissan said sales of its Rogue SUV were up 54 percent.
General Motors and Nissan both saw 4 percent sales gains over last February. Volkswagen’s sales were up 13 percent and Honda’s sales were up 2 percent.
But those gains were offset by declines at other automakers. Fiat Chrysler’s sales fell 10 percent, hurt by declining sales of Jeeps. Toyota’s sales dropped 7 percent. Ford’s sales fell 4 percent. Hyundai’s sales were flat.
Good deals reeled in buyers. Ford was offering $15,000 off on a 2016 Focus electric, while GM was offering zero-percent financing and up to $10,000 off certain GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado pickups, according to car shopping site Autotrader.com. mostly live and work. The company employs roughly 1,500 people in the Central Texas area.
A lot is riding on how well AMD’s Zen-based products sell. After releasing Ryzen this month, AMD plans to roll out more Zen-based chips to be used in graphics processors and servers later this year.
The Ryzen computer processors AMD releases on Thursday are aimed at the higher-end of the PC market. These chips are ideal for gaming or video editing, not for writing in Microsoft Word or surfing the Internet.
Industry analyst Patrick Moorhead said the Ryzen processors offer improved performance from AMD’s last iteration of computer processors. That means better visuals and the ability to juggle multiple open tabs and programs at once, which makes it ideal for video or photo editors.
“And it’s low-power as well,” he said. That means AMD’s high-end computer processors are similar, in terms of performance, to Intel’s for the first time in a decade, said Moorhead, who runs Austin-based Moor Insights & Strategy.
This is a big deal for AMD because Intel dominates the computer processing market.
Although PC sales have been on the decline, AMD is concentrating initially on the higher end of the market because of its high profit margins and because it is “AMD’s sweet spot historically,” Moorhead said.
“The reason why people are so excited is because it’s literally been a one-horse race for years in the high-end desktop space,” Moorhead said. “There really wasn’t any choice out there.”
Investors will get their first glimpse into how much Ryzen boosted AMD’s bottom line when the company reports its first quarter financial results.
In large part due to anticipation over Zen, AMD’s stock has more than quadrupled in price since January 2016.
A gamer utilizes the virtual reality component of the Ryzen desktop computer at AMD’s launch event at the Fair Market in December. The new chips are ideal for gaming or video editing.