Surging trucks emerge as bright spot in slowing USA auto market

Investors ignore sales outlook

According to Autodata Corp, which tracks industry sales, the seasonally adjusted annualised rate (SAAR) of U.S. vehicle and light truck sales in December fell to 17.9 million units from 18.2 million in December 2016.

Larger vehicles are grabbing even more market share from sedans, which Kelley estimated made up just 36 percent of the USA market past year, down from 50 percent in 2012.

General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan, Jaguar Land Rover and Volkswagen all reported sales decreases for December while Ford Motor and Audi reported modest gains as the auto industry finished a year in which the growth in overall sales stopped and then declined.

At Fiat Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge posted declines of 12 percent and 23 percent, respectively. Cadillac and Lexus both saw their sales drop 8 percent previous year; Lincoln sales plummeted 17 percent in December. For the year, Nissan reported total calendar year sales in the US of 1,593,464 units, an increase of 1.9% over the prior year, setting an all-time record.

General Motors was the top seller but had a drop of 1.4 percent.

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Truck sales dipped 1% for the month, and sales of F-Series pickups increased by 2.1%.

While overall results were unimpressive, sales of trucks and sport utility vehicles remained robust at year end.

Total monthly sales compare to an estimate of 232,000 by analysts Kelley Blue Book (KBB), who also estimated an average transaction price of $40,421, up 2.5% year over year and up 1% compared with November's average selling price of $40,023.

"It's still a buoyant industry and the underlying factors that drive it are still very positive", Ford's US sales chief, Mark LaNeve, said.

"We're likely to see most of the decline in the marketplace occur within the vehicle side of the business, as opposed to the light truck segment", he said. But most other automakers saw declines. Automakers are releasing monthly and annual sales numbers Wednesday.

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Analysts think sales will fall a bit further this year.

Its GMC brand saw December sales jump 47.4 per cent when compared to last year, and reported its best year ever, with a 15.1 per cent sales increase from 2016.

Sales at Toyota's Lexus brand fell 13.9 percent.

A promising note for FCA in December was that Alfa Romeo sold 2,034 units were up significantly compared with the same month a year ago and recorded its strongest monthly sales of 2017 and actually outsold the Fiat brand.

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