Executive Briefings

April Car Sales Plummet Could Signal a Longer-Term Decline

Wages are growing and surveys show consumer confidence is high. So why are motor vehicle sales taking a hit?

U.S. sales were down in April for the big automakers: Ford fell 7 percent from April a year ago; General Motors, 5.8 percent; Fiat-Chrysler, 6.8 percent; and Toyota, 4.4 percent.

Volkswagen was the exception, rising 3.1 percent as the company paid off diesel owners in the emissions-cheating scandal and persuaded large numbers to stick with the brand.

The April figures aren't an aberration. The car industry's year-to-date sales are down as well.

If the trend continues, analysts will have to revise down their predictions that about 17.1 million vehicles will be sold in 2017 and begin asking whether the new-car market is on a steeper slide than anticipated.

They aren't quite ready yet to make that call.

"We're still seeing a high level of sales," said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at AutoTrader. Since the recession ended, rising employment and low gasoline prices have kept vehicle sales high.

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U.S. sales were down in April for the big automakers: Ford fell 7 percent from April a year ago; General Motors, 5.8 percent; Fiat-Chrysler, 6.8 percent; and Toyota, 4.4 percent.

Volkswagen was the exception, rising 3.1 percent as the company paid off diesel owners in the emissions-cheating scandal and persuaded large numbers to stick with the brand.

The April figures aren't an aberration. The car industry's year-to-date sales are down as well.

If the trend continues, analysts will have to revise down their predictions that about 17.1 million vehicles will be sold in 2017 and begin asking whether the new-car market is on a steeper slide than anticipated.

They aren't quite ready yet to make that call.

"We're still seeing a high level of sales," said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at AutoTrader. Since the recession ended, rising employment and low gasoline prices have kept vehicle sales high.

Read Full Article