Fiat Chrysler sales up 4% in May, GM up 3%; Ford is down 1% – Detroit Free Press
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles sold 4% more new vehicles in May in the U.S. than a year earlier and General Motors was up 3% while Ford saw its sales fall by 1%.
Toyota’s sales slipped 0.3% as a 10% increase at its Lexus luxury brand nearly offset a 1.6% decline at Toyota division. Nissan reported a drop of almost 1% despite record sales for its trucks and crossovers.
Volkswagen’s U.S. sales rose 8%, helped by a strong start of its new Golf family of small vehicles, which were up 252% from May 2014.
GM sold 293,097 vehicles last month for its best May sales since 2007 and its best month since August 2008. Pickup trucks and crossovers were especially strong sellers.
Chevrolet Silverado sales were up 11% to 51,602. GMC Sierra sales rose 4% to 18,977, and Ram pickup increased 8% to 39,952.
“Chevrolet has the hot hand in the pickup market thanks to our three-truck strategy,” said Kurt McNeil, General Motors’ U.S. vice president of sales. “Our market share is growing and our strategy is to retain these customers with the best overall ownership experience.”
Pickups were not strong for Ford which saw F-Series drop by almost 10%, largely because stocks of the new 2015 F-150 were only half the normal inventory as the Kansas City, Mo, ramps up to full production speed this quarter.
Ford sold 250,813 vehicles last month, with both total and retail sales falling. Sales of its Lincoln luxury brand rose 4%.
“We continue to see strong consumer demand for our newest products, including Edge, F-150, Mustang, Transit Vans and Lincoln MKC,” said Mark LaNeve, Ford vice president, U.S. marketing, sales and service. “Our all-new F-150 is still turning on dealer lots in 26 days against tight supply, and F-150 average transaction prices set a record in May, as customers continued buying a rich mix of high-series pickups.”
LaNeve said he has told dealers May is the low point in terms of pickup inventory and it will improve with each month.
“We began the month at half the inventory we normally carry,” LaNeve said, making it impossible to supply 3,000 dealers with all the truck’s configurations. “They just don’t have a representative sample of inventory of all the cab types which limits opportunities in the market.”
LaNeve said Ford chose not to offer Memorial Day deals because of the short supply and he looks forward to the day when the automaker has full availability of its key products.
The sales chief is pleased that the average transaction price for the trucks is $43,300 which is $3,300 higher than a year ago and up $600 from April.
FCA’s strong month was led by increases of 32% and 13% by its Chrysler and Jeep brands, respectively.
Sales of the Chrysler 200 soared 537% from a year earlier when production on the redesigned model was just beginning.
Ram sold 12% more trucks than a year earlier, but sales of Dodge and Fiat fell 22% and 19%, respectively.
For FCA, it was the 62nd consecutive month of improved sales compared with the year-earlier month.
““Our Jeep brand continues to set records with its best monthly sales ever in May,” said Reid Bigland, head of FCA’s U.S. sales.
Sales of the Jeep Patriot rose 31% and sales of the Jeep Cherokee were up 23%.
GMC had the strongest sales month among General Motors’ four brands with a 12% gain. But sales of the GMC Acadia (up 67%), Buick Enclave (up 23%) and Chevrolet Traverse (up 2%), as the midsize crossover segment is attracting more buyers.
Most forecasters expect industry sales to reach an annual rate of 17.3 million for May, which would be the strongest month since last August.
Americans are continuing to migrate to pickup trucks, SUVs and larger crossover vehicles, which is pushing up the selling price. Kelley Blue Book reported that the average new vehicle sold in May for $33,363, down slightly from April, but 4.3% higher than May 2014.
Credit continues to flow freely and many lenders are offering 0% financing to credit-worthy customers. Edmunds.com reported Monday that 9.5% of all new vehicles sold in May were financed with 0% loans.
Earlier this week Experian reported that the average new vehicle loan is 67 months, the longest ever. The same report found that leasing accounted for 31.5% of all new vehicle transactions in the first quarter of 2015.
“I think automakers are going to be careful about letting that go very much higher,” said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst with Autotrader.com. “While the market seems to be able to absorb it now this is a cyclical business.”
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