New ve­hi­cle sales in US fall by 1.3%

The Punch - - INTERNATIO­NAL BUSINESS -

New ve­hi­cle sales in the US fell 1.3 per cent last year, but the num­bers still passed the healthy 17 mil­lion mark for the fifth straight year.

Ac­cord­ing the As­so­ci­ated Press, au­tomak­ers sold 17.05 mil­lion new cars, trucks and SUVS in 2019. Although buy­ers spent more on ve­hi­cles, com­pa­nies had to prop up sales with record dis­counts, ac­cord­ing to an­a­lysts.

Fol­low­ing a long trend, 69 per cent of new ve­hi­cles sold last year were trucks or SUVS, with truck sales up 2.6 per cent from a year ago. Car sales fell once again, by to 10.1 per cent, ac­cord­ing to Au­to­data Corp.

Sales at Gen­eral Mo­tors fell 2.5 per cent for the year as a 40-day strike by the United Auto Work­ers union cut into in­ven­to­ries in the fourth quar­ter. Ford sales fell 3.2 per cent, while Fiat Chrysler sales dropped 1.4 per cent. Sales at Toy­ota fell 1.8 per cent and Nis­san sales tum­bled al­most 10 per cent.

The ed­munds.com auto pric­ing site pre­dicted that more than half the new ve­hi­cles sold last year were SUVS, pass­ing 50 per cent mar­ket share for the first time.

Also for the first time,

Fiat Chrysler’s Ram pickup beat the Chevro­let Sil­ver­ado in full-year sales as GM re­tooled fac­to­ries to built a new ver­sion of the Sil­ver­ado.

elec­tric ve­hi­cle sales rose al­most 37 per cent last year to just over 236,000, Au­to­data re­ported.

Tesla re­ported global sales on Fri­day with­out sin­gling out the US The Palo Alto, Cal­i­for­nia, elec­tric ve­hi­cle com­pany said sales rose over 50 per cent to 367,500.

Last year turned out to be strong as un­cer­tainty waned in talks over a trade agree­ment with Canada and Mex­ico and progress to­ward a trade deal with China, said Jeff Schus­ter, pres­i­dent of global ve­hi­cle fore­casts for LMC Au­to­mo­tive, a con­sult­ing firm.

Schus­ter pre­dicted sta­bil­ity this year but wrote that sales could be a bit lower than in 2019.

Last year’s sales num­bers de­fied the odds, es­pe­cially be­cause high in­ter­est rates and record prices squeezed some buy­ers, said Jeremy Acevedo, se­nior man­ager of in­dus­try in­sights for ed­munds. “If 2019 taught us any­thing, it’s that you can’t un­der­es­ti­mate the power of a strong econ­omy,” he said. ed­munds pro­vides con­tent for The As­so­ci­ated Press.

The av­er­age newve­hi­cle sale price in De­cem­ber hit an es­ti­mated $34,602, set­ting a record, ac­cord­ing to J.D. Power and LMC. Truck and SUV prices hit an es­ti­mated $36,935, ris­ing $655 from 2018. Car prices av­er­aged $27,461, a small in­crease from a year ear­lier.

But the av­er­age in­cen­tive, or dis­count, per ve­hi­cle was ex­pected to reach $4,600, a record fig­ure that’s up al­most seven per cent from 2018, ac­cord­ing to LMC and J.D. Power.

Thomas King, pres­i­dent of an­a­lyt­ics at J.D. Power, said the record sale prices shows that au­tomak­ers are build­ing the types of ve­hi­cles that peo­ple want to buy. But the record in­cen­tive level “sig­ni­fies that there is still too much sup­ply rel­a­tive to over­all de­mand.”

Other ma­jor au­tomak­ers re­port­ing sales Fri­day in­cluded Honda, which rose 0.2 per cent, and Hyundai, which was up 4.7 per cent. Subaru sales rose 2.9 per cent, with the maker of all-wheel-drive ve­hi­cles re­port­ing record sales for the 11th straight year. Volk­swa­gen Group sales also rose in 2019, by 1.8 per cent.

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