U.S. car volume remains weak as buyers still gravitate to SUVs, trucks

Data revealed on Monday indicate that car sales continued their downward trend, with customers preferring SUVs, trucks and crossovers. Photo by Mike Mozart of JeepersMedia on YouTube/Flickr

Dec. 4 (UPI) — November vehicle sales data released on Monday indicate consumers’ continuing disinterest in passenger cars in favor of SUVs and trucks.

As manufacturers announced sales figures on Monday, Honda and Nissan joined Ford in posting sales declines in November. American Honda Motor Co. sales were down 2.8 percent for the year, including a 30 percent drop in November of sales of its Civic model.

Ford saw a 7.1 percent decline over November 2017, including a 2.3 percent drop in trucks and a 4.9 percent decline in SUVs. Its car sales fell 19.5 percent in November, compared to October, marking its third consecutive month of total sales declines.

Toyota fell less than one percentage point, reporting a 15 percent increase in SUV sales and a 10.6 percent rise in truck sales. The good news was overshadowed by an 18 percent drop in its passenger sales. Nissan was off by 19 percent in November, including a 33 percent drop in car sales.

Rising interest rates on car loans, currently at around 6 percent, have also had an impact. November’s sales figures include vehicles sold during the Black Friday weekend, when interest rates were temporarily lower.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles noted an increase in sales. Its 17 percent jump in November was its third consecutive month of double-digit sales gains, caused largely by fleet sales and the popularity of its Ram pickup trucks.

Subaru sales also rose 9.8 percent in November.

Total sales for all vehicles sold in the United States indicate that carmakers are struggling to maintain their 2017 sales pace without resorting to money-losing customer incentives. Car sales, notwithstanding SUVs, trucks and crossovers, are poised to decline for the fifth consecutive year. Ford and General Motors have announced plans to largely abandon the car market in favor of the more profitable and popular categories.

Although Hyundai posted a 0.5 percent gain, its luxury brand Genesis fell by 77 percent. Volkswagen slipped by 8.3 percent in November, and Mazda sales fell 3.8 percent. Porsche, Volvo and Jaguar posted modest gains in the month.

The composite score indicates that the U.S. light-vehicle market is expected to fall about 2 percent, compared to November 2017. It would be the first year-over-year decline since November 2009, and could prompt end-of-year deals and sales promotions. Total vehicle sales, though, are expected to be about 17 million by the end of the year, which would be the industry’s fourth consecutive year of increased total sales.


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