Auto Sales to Drop in December as Fiat Chrysler Sales Crater

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U.S. car sales are expected to fall in December by 5.7% compared to last year. However, the figure, at 1.57 million, will make it the record month for 2017.

While most car companies will suffer modest declines, sales at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU) are expected to dive 11.7%.

Speaking about the entire industry, Tim Fleming, analyst for Kelley Blue Book, said:

December should be the biggest sales month of the year, and despite our expectations for significant year-over-year declines, the projected SAAR of 17.6 million would be the third-highest of the year. It’s also important to remember that December 2016 was the strongest month in nearly 15 years, fueled by heavy incentives and year-end sales objectives. We’re still expecting a year-end sales push from many manufacturers, which will translate into incentives and discounting, but since the sales objectives should be reduced from last year’s peak, we are projecting slower sales than last December.

Fiat Chrysler owns the Chrysler, Fiat, Dodge, Ram and Jeep brands. With the drop, the company is expected to sell 170,000 vehicles. Some of its divisions sell mostly sedans and coupes during a period when pickups, crossovers and sport utility vehicles are extremely popular. One reason for the drop is some discontinued models.

Sales of America’s number one car company, General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM), are expected to fall 7.9% to 294,000. GM owns the Chevy, Cadillac, GMC and Buick brands. The number two U.S. car company, Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) is expected to post a decline of 2.4% to 232,000. The success of the industry’s top-selling vehicle, the F-150 full-sized pickup, is likely to help Ford. Its sales have risen most months this year. Ford owns the Ford and Lincoln brands.

Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) sales are expected to drop 9.6% to 220,000. Toyota owns the Toyota and Lexus brands. Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (NYSE: HMC) sales are expected to drop 5.3% to 152,000. Honda owns the Acura and Honda brands. Nissan sales are expected to drop 5.7% to 144,000. Nissan owns the Nissan and Infiniti brands. Sales of South Korea’s Kia and Hyundai brands are expected to drop 9.1% to 106,000.

KBB summed up the month’s trends:

Key Highlights for Estimated December 2017 Sales Forecast:

  • In December, new light-vehicle sales, including fleet, are expected to hit 1,570,000 units, down 7 percent compared to December 2016 and up 13 percent from November 2017.
  • The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) for December 2017 is estimated to be 17.6 million, down from 18.1 million in December 2016 and up from 17.3 million in November 2017.
  • Retail sales are expected to account for 82.4 percent of volume in December 2017, down from 82.8 percent in December 2016.

Source: courtesy of Kelley Blue Book