US car sales continue to ebb in June, marking the sixth straight monthly decline, even as appetite for larger SUVs and light trucks persisted, according to industry figures released Monday.
General Motors, the country’s largest automaker, and Ford reported total sales down about five percent for the month, with GM down for the second month in a row as the slowdown from 2016’s record sales continued.
The US division of Fiat Chrysler fell 7.4 percent for the month
Japanese automakers, however, eked out increases, with Toyota rebounding to post a monthly gain of 2.1 percent, but still below the pace in May of last year.
“June sales numbers reaffirm we’re in what we call a post-peak phase,” Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Autotrader, told reporters.
“We still think the market’s on track for a pretty strong year but certainly below the past.”
The shifting composition of the market was again clear: midsize vehicle sales fell 18 percent, and compact cars dropped six percent.
But full-size pickups gained four percent and SUVs and crossover vehicles rose as much as 10 percent, according to Alec Gutierrez of Kelley Blue Book.
GM said sales of SUVs and crossovers skyrocketed by 22 percent, with the Chevrolet Equinox gaining 36 percent and the Traverse SUV up a stunning 71 percent for the month.
Toyota said its luxury Lexus brand fell 5.4 percent in June, but was boosted by the SUV segment.
“The auto industry has cooled off compared to last year’s record-breaking pace,” Jack Hollis, general manager of the Toyota brand, said in a statement.
Still, Gutierrez said with low unemployment, high consumer confidence and major equities markets performing well, the shape of the economy pointed to continued strong sales.
At the current rate, sales are on track to finish the year at 16.4 million vehicles sold or more, still strong but down from 2016’s massive 17.55 million, he said.
Krebs also said automakers were showing “discipline,” easing away from leasing, sub-prime lending, discounts and incentives to boost sales.
“The financial houses of the automakers are in pretty good shape,” she said. “We don’t see any kind of crazy imbalances.”
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