Auto sales, believed to have dropped in 2017, remain strong


Vehicle sales for the month declined 5.5% year-over-year to 48,380 units from 51,205 units, truck sales also decreased 1.0% to 110,788 units, while SUVs sales rose 8.0% to 82,881 units as compared to a year earlier. According Autodata, 2017 full-year sales hit 17.23 million units, down almost 2 per cent from an all-time U.S. record of 17.55 million units in 2016.

General Motors trailed Ford but delivered strong sales in December with 19,801 vehicles sold - an increase of 9.2 per cent year-over-year - to bring its 2017 sales total to 302,826, a 13.3 per cent jump from 2016.

Fiat Chrysler's sales fell 8%.

The largest USA automaker said its dealer inventories at the end of 2017 were about 752,554 units, down 90,000 from a year ago, or about 63 days' supply.

Ford reported an 11.1 percent drop in monthly auto sales, hurt by weak demand for cars and trucks, selling 17,565 vehicles in December.

Truck sales dipped 1% for the month, and sales of F-Series pickups increased by 2.1%.

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"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". "That typically isn't great for vehicle shopping, but the industry ran really strong in the last 10 days" of the month. 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.

All major automakers had been projected to report declining sales to wrap up the market's first down year since 2009, when GM and Chrysler went bankrupt. But most other automakers saw declines.

Ford's overall sales increased by 0.9% in December, but the automaker, which is more and more dependent than ever on the success of its trucks and sport-utes, saw full-year sales drop 1.1% led by a 14.2% decline in vehicle sales. SUV sales fell 12% year over year in December. Ford's sales were up 1 percent in December as its new large SUVs hit the market, and Hyundai's sales rose 2 percent.

Ford shares are trading in the green Wednesday, as are GM shares, as both vehicle makers announced upbeat sales in the final month of 2017.

GM's overall December sales - retail and fleet - were down 3.3% and for the year, they fell 1.3% for the year. Low unemployment and rising consumer confidence are expected to boost demand this year.

While industrywide sales for the year were down compared to the year ago results, pricing numbers on the vehicles sold were encouraging.