Auto Sales Drop for US Manufacturers to Start 2017

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Following a historically strong December, as well as the second consecutive year of record car sales, the Big Three American automakers all reported a drop in a sales in the first month of 2017.

General Motors reported a 3.8% decline in sales from a year ago as 195,909 vehicles were sold across the country. Retail sales, those to noncommercial customers, totaled 155,010, a nearly 5% fall from last year.

Of the company’s four brands sold in the United States, only GMC posted a year-over-year gain as its total sales rose 1.1% to 37,324. The top selling GMC was the Sierra pickup with 13,732 delivered.

Chevrolet showed the smallest loss as sales fell 1.9% to 135,170. The Silverado topped the brand’s sales with 35,553, followed by the Lordstown-built Cruze with 19,949 delivered – a nearly 39% jump from January 2015.

Cadillac sales were down to 10,298, a 4.1% decrease, led by the XT5 with 3,883 sold. Meanwhile, Buick sales were down 28.2% to 13,117 cars and SUVs leaving showrooms.

Ford Motor Co. saw a slight decrease from last year as sales for its two brands, Ford and Lincoln. Between the two, 172,612 cars, trucks and SUVs were sold, a 0.6% drop.

Among the Ford brand – whose sales total 163,827, a 1.6% decline – sales were topped by the F-series truck line, of which 57,995 were sold, the Escape with 20,588, and the Fusion with 15,515. Overall, truck and SUV sales rose 5.5% and 7%, respectively, while sales of cars dropped 17.5%.

Lincoln’s sales were led by the MKX with 2,928. In total, the luxury brand delivered 8,785 vehicles, a 22.4% jump.

Fiat Chrysler also posted a year-over-year loss in January as sales dropped 11% with 152,218 vehicles leaving showrooms nationwide. Three of the company’s four American brands posted losses in January.

Ram reported a modest 5% increase in sales as customers took home 38,045 vehicles.

Jeep sales fell 7%, totaling 58,415 for the month, lead by the Grand Cherokee with 17,301 delivered, a 24% increase. Sales for Dodge were down 17% to 40,109 and were led by the Journey minivan with 12,636 sold. Chrysler posted the largest loss among all of Fiat Chrysler’s brands, dropping 39% to 13,377. Sales were led by the Pacifica minivan with 6,670 delivered.

While sales did decrease in January, the drop is not unexpected. The month traditionally has the lowest sales volume and following up a record month can be a tough act to follow, noted J.D. Power analysts.

“While this year will mark the first time that the industry has started off with a retail sales decline since 2010, the retail [seasonally adjusted annualized rate] remains robust,” said Deirdre Borrego, the J.D. Power’s vice president of automotive data and analytics, in a release. “The challenges for the industry remain maintaining profitability while coping with high inventory levels and elevated incentives, which continue to rise year over year.”

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