Car sales down as US automotive industry suffers decline in 2017

Posted on 17 May 2017 by Aiden Burgess

The US automotive industry has suffered its fourth straight month of declining sales with US car and truck sales falling more than expected for April.

Overall car sales fell 4.7% to nearly 1.43 million, with an 11.1 % percent decline in car sales from April 2016, according to industry tracker Autodata.

Major car manufacturers Ford, General Motors, Nissan and Toyota all reported declines in US sales for the month of April, with Fiat Chrysler’s sales falling 6.9%, Ford’s sales down 7.2%, General Motors down 5.8%, Nissan down 1.5% and Toyota’s sales down 2%.

Ford, General Motors and Toyota all had declining sales for the month of April compared to April 2016, with Ford sales falling 7% from a year ago, General Motors down 5.8%, Toyota’s sales down 4.4%, while Fiat-Chrysler also recorded a decline in sales compared to April last year of 6.8%.

The decline in the major car manufacturer’s sales in April subsequently affected their bottom line at the start of May, with Fiat Chrysler’s stock falling by 4.3%, Ford down by 4.4%, and General Motors falling by 2.9%.

Industry analysts such as Edmunds and Kelley Blue Brook had projected industry sales declines of 5% and 3.1% respectively for April 2017.

Kelley Blue Brook analyst Alec Gutierrez said the predicted decline in sales, which was worse than expected by the US auto industry, “could in fact be pointing to a slowing auto market.”

A cooling US automotive market

The overall decline of the US auto industry during the first four months of 2017 is in stark contrast to the preceding seven straight years of industry growth in the lucrative American market.

Last year saw a record 17.6 million sold in the US, with industry analyst Kelley Blue Brook predicting that overall US sales in 2017 will fail to reach this total signalling the first annual sales drop since 2009.

This predicted first decline in eight years in the number of annual US vehicle sales, following two straight record years, indicates that the traditionally lucrative US auto market may have plateaued. The decline may be an inevitable by-product of a number of factors, particularly that the heavy reliance on incentives with rising discounts has meant that the average price paid per vehicle is staring to wane after years of steady increases.

Despite the decline in sales of the US auto industry during the first four months of 2017, Ford’s vice president of sales and marketing, Mark La Neve, said he was confident the industry could bounce back over the next eight months.

“We have to let the year play out,” he said. “All the underlying fundamental indicators that drive our business are very positive. Some of the big months are still in front of us.”

Adding to La Neve’s confidence, despite the declining US sales, is the fact that Asian companies such as Subaru and Hyundai have bucked the industry trend and recorded increased sales for the month of April, with Subaru sales up 4% compared to April last year and Hyundai recording a 1.3% increase in sales.