Ford shares gain on upbeat December sales

Ford shares gain on upbeat December sales

GM predicted the industry would post an annualized selling rate for December, adjusted for seasonal trends, of 18.2 million light vehicles, matching the pace set a year earlier and beating the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. The average price of a new vehicle reached an all-time high a year ago of $36,113, as drivers bought bigger SUVs with more sophisticated technology.

At Fiat Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge posted declines of 12 percent and 23 percent, respectively. Toyota Motor Corp.'s RAV4 was the leading sport utility vehicle for the first time and joined Nissan Motor Co.'s Rogue crossover in outselling all passenger cars in what was a bleak year for sedans.

The largest US automaker said its dealer inventories at the end of 2017 were about 752,554 units, down 90,000 from a year ago, or about 63 days' supply.

Fiat Chrysler did not release year-end figures, but its December sales fell 11 percent to 171,946, a bit below the level projected by Edmunds, but above the forecast by Kelley Blue Book. But the influx of late-model used cars coming back on the market could also cut into sales of new vehicles.

DETROIT (AP) - The U.S. auto industry's historic growth streak has ended, but demand for new vehicles - especially SUVs - remains healthy as the new year begins.

"It's still a buoyant industry and the underlying factors that drive it are still very positive", said Mark LaNeve, Ford Motor Co.'s USA sales chief.

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The all-electric Chevrolet Bolt also had its best month ever in December, GM said, but Cadillac sales dropped by 29% as its rivals in the luxury segment unloaded some heavy marketing firepower.

Ford's sales fell 1.1 percent to 2.6 million for the year compared to 2016, but it reported a surprise increase in December 2017 sales, fueled in part by the continued success of the F-Series pickups and other large vehicles.

GM's overall December sales - retail and fleet - were down 3.3% and for the year, they fell 1.3% for the year.

And, the USA auto industry continues to enjoy strong demand for larger vehicles, including SUVs, pickup trucks and "crossover" models.

Toyota saw USA sales drop 0.6% to 2.4 million, but the company highlighted strength in its popular Camry sedan, the RAV4 crossover and SUVs. Honda division saw its sales drop last month by 6.3%, but came in with a 0.7% jump for all of 2017. Volkswagen's dropped 19 percent.

But GM said it expected the industry to sell less than 17 million new vehicles in 2018.

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