U.S. Auto Sales: 2018 Begins on a ‘Slightly’ Positive Note

 

U.S. Auto Sales: 2018 Begins on a ‘Slightly’ Positive Note

 by Amy Lignor

Just last week the new car sales report was released, showing both the winners and losers when it came to sales figures to start out the New Year. With Toyota, Nissan, and GM on the rise; it was Ford, Honda, and FCA that experienced a slight downturn. (Autoweek.com)

 

It is a fact that U.S. sales started 2018 with a gain behind trucks and light-vehicles, but the question has to be asked: “After three straight years of strong sales, will the good times keep rolling?” The answer from a majority of auto analysts looks to be a very strong: “Yes!”

 

The fact is U.S. light-vehicle sales rose 1.2 percent in January with higher incentives, and light-truck demand rose even as severe winter storms covered major areas of the country and kept traffic in the showrooms sparse. The seasonally adjusted annual sales rate for January came in at 17.18 million which was on par with the average estimate from analysts (a survey conducted by Bloomberg), even though it was down from 17.43 million in January 2017, and December’s high of 17.86 million.

 

When looking at the winners thus far, higher fleet shipments made by GM, Toyota and Nissan, helped the industry record its fourth-best January in car and light truck deliveries. Deliveries to fleets surged 48 percent last month for Nissan and 69 percent for Toyota. (Figures from Cox Automotive)

 

Jack Hollis, general manager of Toyota, stated: “We’re encouraged by the strength of the market.” Not a surprise, considering it was Toyota that posted its biggest U.S. sales gain in nearly four years.

 

General Motors, with a boost from fleet sales, chalked up its fourth-straight monthly gain, while Nissan Motor climbed 10 percent.

 

When it came to the two still most common names in the industry…it was Chevy over Ford. U.S. sales of the Chevrolet (Equinox, Traverse, Trax and Bolt EV) each set January records. Demand for the Colorado pickup spiked, as did the Silverado. On the other side of the coin, Ford experienced a 6.3 percent decline which stemmed from a decline in car volume and a drop in fleet shipments.

 

But what comes with the next twelve months? Without a crystal ball, consumers must turn to the “experts” in the industry. With everyone from AutoNation, Inc. (the nation’s biggest dealership group) to analysts from S&P putting together reports, most are specifying that while tax reform is expected to provide a lift in U.S. sales, rising interest rates could counter any actual gains made.

 

The positives include strong consumer confidence, record equity markets and low unemployment figures. But this is the real world, after all, which means plenty of things can happen, ranging from a surge in electric car sales to even spiking gas prices that could affect 2018 negatively.

 

Some headlines to look out for will be news in the electric-vehicle sales which, globally, make up only about 1% of sales. The positive analysts have pointed at more affordable EVs on the road inspiring more sales; however, consumers will believe it when they see it. The overall market dynamics are pointing more toward a consolidation of EV producers than actual growth, as flat 2018 sales should put the brakes on any EV market expansion.

 

Another news tidbit will be in the area of stopping distracted drivers. The automakers have caved over the years to tech companies, with vehicles ending up as smartphones on wheels. But there are no two ways to see it: using a smartphone while driving still poses a threat. And as more-addicted young drivers hit the roadways, the problem will only increase. The direction this is going in is exactly where consumers do not want it to go: the federal government’s doorstep. It is now, in the auto industry’s best interest that they alter things while sales are continuing to be profitable in 2018. After all, you never know when a new law may be passed, and with that law will come a drop in sales.

 

In the end, make sure you take the time to research all areas before spending your hard-earned dollars. The sales and projections affect you, the consumer, and you want to make sure you get the most value for your money. To keep up-to-date and aware of the latest news and reports in the auto industry, a variety of sites from Businessinsider.com to Forbes.com and others, can provide the answers you’re looking for on a daily basis.

 

Source:  BaretNewsWire.com

 

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