Investors bet on pickups and SUVs despite low USA sales

Investors bet on pickups and SUVs despite low USA sales

FCA US reported an 11% drop compared with sales in December 2016. Volkswagen, which has always been dependent on sales of passenger cars, reported that 48% of its sales in December were SUVs.

The company said it sold 17,654 vehicles in December, a drop of 6 percent compared to the year earlier. But the influx of late-model used cars coming back on the market could also cut into sales of new vehicles.

The three leaders in the USA market - General Motors, Ford and Toyota - all reported modest declines a year ago, compared with the sales records set in 2016.

Ford's USA sales rose 0.9 percent in December, fueled by 89,385 F-Series pickup trucks.

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. Automakers are releasing monthly and annual sales numbers Wednesday.

Some of the decline can be attributed to Fiat Chrysler's decision to sell fewer vehicles to daily rental fleets.

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. Several automakers also experienced minor decreases in their sales despite the overall industry seeing a sales increase. Ford's sales were up 1 percent in December as its new large SUVs hit the market, and Hyundai's sales rose 2 percent.

Gomes says the strong light truck sales are not expected to disappear anytime soon. But car-heavy brands like Chrysler, Dodge and Fiat all saw their sales drop by double-digit percentages. "I think the reality is that the practicality and spaciousness of vehicles such as crossovers do mean that we will continue to see their share rise over time".

- LUXURY CROWN: Mercedes-Benz's sales fell 1 percent to 337,246, but that was still enough to make it the top-selling luxury brand in the USA for the second straight year.

Gomes does not expect sales in 2018 to surpass the past year's record, due in part to slightly softer employment growth, but said it will still be "a very good year, probably around the two-million unit mark once again". GM's sales fell 3 percent. GM said it is the No. 1 retailer of electric plug-in vehicles in Canada, selling more than 6,400 electric plug-in vehicles previous year - about 2.1 per cent of its 2017 sales.

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