GM predicted the industry would post an annualized selling rate for December, adjusted for seasonal trends, of 18.2 million light vehicles, matching the pace set a year earlier and beating the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News.
"That's real money to consumers", said Charlie Chesbrough, a senior economist with Cox Automotive, which owns AutoTrader.com and other car-buying sites. At the same time passenger vehicle sales fell 3.4 per cent to the lowest level since 1964 with 639,823 units sold, compared to 1.39 million light trucks.
For December, Ford reported an increase of 0.9% year over year to 242,049 Ford and Lincoln vehicles, compared with December 2016 sales of 239,854. But the influx of late-model used cars coming back on the market could also cut into sales of new vehicles.
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. Ford sold 896,764 F-Series trucks in the USA last year, or almost two trucks every minute, partly because of post-hurricane demand in Texas and Florida.
Most major automakers on Wednesday reported lower December US sales and forecast weaker overall sales in 2018, but investors bid up shares in the sector on a bet that high-margin pickup trucks and SUVs will pull Detroit's automakers through any downturn. For the year, Toyota division reported sales of 2,129,383 vehicles, a 0.5% increase.
Auto sales in the United States fell by 2 percent in 2017, the first decline in seven years.
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". At the same time, automakers piled on deals in order to juice sales and hang on to their market share. Unlike previous years, however, setting that record came down to the wire and required heavy incentive spending from the automakers. But most other automakers saw declines.
Sales of the Lincoln brand slipped by 17% year over year in December as sales of Lincoln cars tumbled 25.5%.
Sales at Toyota's Lexus brand fell 13.9 percent. Sales dropped 5 percent to 1.6 million last month. GM's sales fell 3 percent.