Leading another surge in U.S. car sales, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU) will have sold 225,000 cars and light trucks in March, up 14.1%. Additionally, Kelley Blue Book (KBB) expects overall sales of all manufacturers for the month to total 1,660,000 units, up 8% from March 2016. Some experts believe that consumers have to become financially exhausted enough to chip into the growth of the auto market. That looks unlikely in the near term.
However, Tim Fleming, analyst for KBB, reports the market is showing early signs of cracking:
The industry continues to maintain its momentum in March as we expect the highest volume of any month in more than 10 years, However, we continue to follow indicators that demand for new cars is weakening, while there is increased incentive spending and an increasing share of fleet sales.
Fiat Chrysler’s sales have been carried by its Jeep brand for some time. As it hits its 75th Anniversary, Jeep shows no signs of a slowdown in demand. The same will hold true in the near future. KKB researchers report:
Fiat Chrysler could have the best month of all major manufacturers, with double-digit growth expected in March. The largest year-over-year improvements will be from Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans, which were low on inventory at this time last year. The Jeep brand also should post another record in March with year-over-year strength headlined by the Renegade.
Chrysler’s minivan franchise dates back to the period when Lee Iacocca was chief executive.
Just behind Fiat Chrysler, Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (NYSE: HMC) is expected to post strong results, with sales up 13.2% to 143,000.
The second of the Big Three is expected to post strong results as well. Ford Motor Co.’s (NYSE: F) sales rose 9.5% to 257,000, according to KBB. General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM), the largest manufacturer, will post a more modest increase of 5.7% to 264,000.
As might be expected, Volkswagen sales will continue to crater, down 10.5% to 46,000. There has been speculation that VW will leave the U.S. market. Another rumor is that VW will buy back every one of the cars affected by the diesel output scandal.
The slowdown in future months — that prediction has been made, incorrectly, before.