SUVs and Crossovers Saved 2017 for Automakers in the US

Olive Hawkins
January 12, 2018

"While we had a decline (in December) on a year-over-year basis, the strength during all of 2017 was such that we shattered the previous record, surpassing two million units for the first time ever", said Carlos Gomes, a senior economist and auto industry specialist at Scotiabank.

GM's overall December sales - retail and fleet - were down 3.3% and for the year, they fell 1.3% for the year. For the full year, FCA sales dropped by 8% with Jeep falling 11% in 2017. The American automaker finished the year with 308,474 units sold, an increase of 1.3 per cent from 2016.

For the year, TMNA reported sales of 2,434,515 vehicles, a 0.6% decrease. While that included a 15.2% decline in auto sales from 2016, it also included a record year for sales of SUVS at the United States carmaker.

GM also published its December sales figures Wednesday, which showed total sales were 2% up on the same month in 2016.

Toyota saw US sales drop 0.6 percent to 2.4 million, but the company highlighted strength in its popular Camry sedan, the RAV4 crossover and SUVs.

"I'm actually surprised the industry was as strong as it was, we had some pretty severe weather, bitterly cold in much of the country", Mark LaNeve, Ford's USA sales chief, said on a call with analysts and reporters.

Ford says, even with bitter temperatures and snow, it saw strong sales in the last 10 days of December.

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Jaguar Land Rover North America LLC reported December 2017 U.S sales both brands dropped 9% from December 2016.

The record in light truck sales comes as automakers shift their production to meet increasing SUV and truck demand.

Mazda's sales were down 6.5% last month and its 2017 sales were off 2.8% versus 2016.

Detroit-based GM sold 19,801 vehicles in Canada last month, with Chevrolet accounting for more than half of total sales.

Charlie Chesbrough, chief economist at Cox Automotive, owner of the Autotrader online vehicle market and Kelley Blue Book auto appraisal service, stated the group expects 2018 sales to hit 16.7 million units and increasing rate of interest are one of the industry's obstacles this year as they increase month-to-month vehicle payments. Low unemployment and rising consumer confidence are expected to boost demand this year.

- PILING ON THE DEALS: New vehicle prices hit a record a year ago, averaging $36,113 as buyers bought bigger SUVs and added more safety and infotainment features, Kelley Blue Book said.

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