Ford Full-Year US Sales Down 1.1%; December Up

Ford Full-Year US Sales Down 1.1%; December Up

According to Autodata Corp, which tracks market sales, the seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of US auto and light truck sales in December dropped to 17.9 million units from 18.2 million in December 2016. The average price of a new vehicle reached an all-time high a year ago of $36,113, as drivers bought bigger SUVs with more sophisticated technology.

According to Autodata, 2017 full-year sales struck 17.23 million units, down nearly 2 percent from an all-time USA record of 17.55 million units in 2016. Sales totaled 2.587 million units compared with 2.615 million sold in 2016. It's the first time in 8 years the number has dropped.

"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.

"December capped off a record year for Ford brand SUVs", said Mark LaNeve, vice president of Ford US marketing, sales and service.

"It's good news in the sense that it highlights that the consumer is coming back to the market with soaring demands for crossovers, but it's also telling us that business investment is also strengthening, which is confirmed by a sharp improvement in pickup truck sales".

Analysts predict new auto sales will decline even more this year. Sales were down overall, with only a few automakers posting gains.

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Despite the usual year-end push to get vehicles out the door, most automakers endured tough sledding in December.

"F-Series had an unbelievable year as we sold almost 900,000 pickups, with strong high-end truck demand as customers continue to opt for our latest technology and equipment packages", LaNeve added. The GM plant in Oshawa is being repurposed to start producing GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverdo trucks starting this month. Fiat Chrysler's sales fell 11 percent, while Toyota's sales dropped 8 percent and Nissan's sales were down 9.5 percent. For the year, Toyota division reported sales of 2,129,383 vehicles, a 0.5% increase.

On the truck side, Toyota's full-size Tundra has not gained significant traction in a segment the Detroit Three automakers continue to dominate. SUV sales fell 12% year over year in December.

Industry sales in 2018 will probably drop again thanks in part to higher interest rates and greater availability of used sport utility vehicles.

The winning streak "was the result of pent-up demand after the recession that's finally just running out", said Tim Fleming, an analyst at Kelley Blue Book.

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