U.S. auto sales fall in February on weak SUV demand
Automakers on Friday reported a decline in U.S. sales for February as demand for SUVs slows after years of rapid growth, pointing to a drop in overall sales in 2019.
Toyota Motor Corp said its sales fell 5.2 percent to 172,748 vehicles due to declining sales of its flagship Camry sedan as well as its Tundra pickup trucks and Sienna minivans.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV
"The overall industry is starting off slower due in part to weather, the U.S. government shutdown, and concern over tax refunds," Reid Bigland, Fiat Chrysler`s U.S. head of sales, said in a statement.
Analysts have also pointed to rising interest rates on auto loans that have weighed on sales. The interest rates translated into higher monthly car payments for consumers, some of whom have likely postponed purchases until a later date.
"We knew skyrocketing comparisons to last year, particularly for the Jeep brand, would catch up with Fiat Chrysler," said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at online marketplace Autotrader.
Krebs added that Fiat Chrysler`s Compass and Renegade models are typically purchased by more budget-constrained buyers, who might be facing some cash crunch at this time of the year.
U.S. President Donald Trump`s threat to impose a 25 percent tariff on imported cars risks a further hit to vehicle demand and profits for automakers, potentially forcing consumers to shift to the used car market, analysts say.
Industry consultants J.D. Power and LMC Automotive have forecast 2019 total light-vehicle sales to fall 1.9 percent to 17.0 million units, assuming tariffs on imported cars are not enacted.
The consultants` estimate for full-year sales with tariffs on imported cars assumes a reduction in demand by as much as 700,000 units, as prices rise significantly, hitting buyers` purchasing power.
Japan`s Honda Motor Co Ltd reported a 0.4 percent dip in U.S. vehicles sales to 115,159 units, while Nissan Motor Co Ltd`s sales in the United States plummeted 12 percent to 114,342.
Top two automakers General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co have stopped reporting monthly auto sales numbers.
J.D. Power and LMC Automotive`s had forecast U.S. auto sales to drop about 1 percent to 1.29 million vehicles in February.
A poll of economists by Reuters expected U.S. car and light truck sales to fall to 16.80 million units in annualised terms in February, from 17.01 million units a year earlier.
(This article has not been edited by Zeebiz editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
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