Cruze sales down again in December

Cruze sales down again in December

Total retail sales fell 4% year over year in December to 176,164 units and fleet sales jumped 16.8% to 65,885 units.

US sales of new vehicles are expected to fall 2 percent to 17.1 million in 2017, according to Kelley Blue Book.

The three leaders in the USA market - General Motors, Ford and Toyota - all reported modest declines Wednesday in annual sales compared with 2016, a record-setting year for the auto industry.

However, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, reported a fall in monthly and yearly sales, hurt by a lower demand for its Jeep and Dodge branded vehicles. For the year, Nissan reported total calendar year sales in the US of 1,593,464 units, an increase of 1.9% over the prior year, setting an all-time record.

"December capped off a record year for Ford brand SUVs, making it eight consecutive years of Ford brand sales leadership". But the influx of late-model used cars coming back on the market could also cut into sales of new vehicles. That would be the first year-over-year decline since 2009, ending an unprecedented seven-year expansion.

"It's still a buoyant industry and the underlying factors that drive it are still very positive", said Mark LaNeve, Ford Motor Co.'s US sales chief. Automakers are releasing monthly and annual sales numbers Wednesday.

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.

Despite the usual year-end push to get vehicles out the door, most automakers endured tough sledding in December. Fiesta sales fell by 3% and Fusion sales fell 8.8% year over year.

GM also published its December sales figures Wednesday, which showed total sales were 2% up on the same month in 2016. Passenger auto sales dropped 14.2% while sport utility vehicle sales rose 2.9% and truck sales rose 4.3%. Chevrolet was offering $11,000 off a 2017 Silverado pickup last month. Volkswagen's dropped 19 percent. "That will keep the broad economy growing, and help keep sales at very healthy levels even as the Fed increases interest rates".

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".

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.