Despite Losses, Big 3 Beat Sales Projections

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Big Three of American automakers all reported a decrease in year-to-year sales Monday morning, although the losses weren’t as bad as industry analysts expected.

Following last year’s record sales numbers – totaling nearly 17.5 million – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. were largely expected to fall off pace this year.

“The market isn’t sliding,” said Business Insider in its September sales preview last week. “It’s merely flattening and flattening at an historically high level.”

Analysts for Reuters projected year-to-year sales for September to drop 2.3% for GM (which reported a 0.6% decline), an 8.5% drop for Ford (7.7%) and a 1.2% drop (1%) for Fiat Chrysler.

Total sales for GM dropped 0.6% in September, totaling 249,795 delivered to dealerships. Retail sales for the company were up slightly to 204,449, a 0.3% gain.

For Chevrolet, total sales almost held even from a year ago as 170,237 cars were sold last month, just 438 fewer than last year. The Lordstown-built Cruze continued its resurgence as sales jumped 8.4% to 15,216. The Silverado topped sales for the brand with 45,380 sold.

The only other GM brand to post a loss was GMC, which saw sales fall 8.7% to 43,268, led by the Sierra pickup truck with 18,098.

Posting gains for GM were Buick and Cadillac, which reported gains of 14.1% and 3.1%, respectively. Buick sales – totaling 20,922 – were led by the Encore with 7,297 delivered, while Cadillac’s best seller was the XT5 with 4,608 sold. Cadillac sold 15,368 vehicles last month.

Ford Motor Co. reported a 7.7% drop in sales from a year ago between its two brands with 204,447 vehicles sold in September.

Sales of the Ford brand dropped more than 8% to 195,650. Topping sales was the F-series pickup line with 67,809 delivered, a 2.6% decline from a year ago. The Lincoln brand continued its surge as sales were up 1.3% to 8,797 last month, led by the MKZ with 2,447 sold.

The drop in sales, the company said in its monthly sales statement, fits with Ford Motor Co.’s plan to “front-load fleet sales this year.” Fleet sales – sales to rental, commercial and government organizations – were down 21% in September, while retail sales dropped just 4%.

Fiat Chrysler’ sales were down 1% last month as 192,883 cars left showroom floors. With the exception of the Ram line, all of FCA’s American brands posted losses last month. Ram sales gained 27% with 51,866 trucks sold.

Chrysler posted the company’s biggest loss as 18,797 cars were delivered last month, a 27% decrease from a year ago. Sales were led by the Pacifica with 9,712.

Both Jeep and Dodge posted single-digit losses. Jeep finished the month down 3% with 76,331 sold, while Dodge sales were 6% behind last year with 42,935. Topping the sales charts for the two brands were the Jeep Grand Cherokee – 18,507 sold for an 18% gain – and the Dodge Journey, of which 12,091 were sold, constituting a 6% gain from a year ago.

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