auto salesAP

US automakers reported weaker sales than forecast for August as Hurricane Harvey slowed purchases towards the end of the month. 

Sales rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 16.14 million, according to AutoData, below Bloomberg’s consensus forecast for 16.60 million vehicles. 

Here’s the scoreboard: 

  • Ford: -2.1% (-3.5% expected)
  • Fiat Chrysler: -10.6% (-5.9% expected)
  • GM: +7.5% (+3.7% expected)
  • Nissan: -13% (-0.6% expected)
  • Toyota: +6.8% (+7.8% expected)
  • Honda: -2.4% (+4.2% expected)

Before the hurricane hit, analysts expected an increase for the first time this year. But August ended up extending the sales slowdown this year, which comes after seven straight years of record-setting numbers.

Like other sectors of the economy dented by the hurricane, the new cars bought to replace those salvaged by the storm should boost the auto industry in the coming months. 

Many automakers have pared down their less profitable sales to rental fleets, and this has subtracted from overall sales this year. Also, more profitable SUVs and trucks are outselling sedans, which have lower margins, suggesting that a shift in consumer preferences is underway.