USA: the Beginning of spring worse for car manufacturers


by Nick Carey

DETROIT (Reuters) – major automakers announced on Tuesday a drop in sales in the United States in April, while consumer demand continues to falter.

The decline of the last month comes at a time when some manufacturers reported a strong sales growth in march, after the weak performance in February.

Ford (NYSE:F) Motor company has registered a decrease of 4.7% of its sales, a downturn of 2.6% for dealers. The second american car maker has reported a 0.9% increase in the sales of its pickups, but those in SUV and passenger cars, however, were down 4.6% and 15%, respectively.

For years, consumers are moving away from passenger cars the use of traditional to pickups, SUV and other crossovers.

But the number of new models compete to gain a share of this market is growing faster than the demand, threatening the profits of the manufacturers.

“This is a segment highly competitive (…) with a lot of new models,” said Mark LaNeve, head of sales of Ford for the United States, referring to the SUV.

Last year, auto sales in the United States were down 2%, after reaching a record to 17.55 million units in 2016.

They should still be lower in 2018 because of rising interest rates and the arrival on the market of millions of vehicles from the inventories of rental companies that allow motorists to buy cars almost new at a lower cost.

Nissan (T:7201) Motor drove over potholes with sales that have plunged from 28% in April. Sales of passenger cars of the japanese manufacturer have dropped 35% and those of SUVS and pickups of 23.1%. Even those of its popular crossover Rogue have declined by almost 15%.

General Motors (NYSE:GM) announced last month that it would no longer issue its monthly figures but only its sales over the quarter, estimating that the monthly data do not adequately reflect the market. Industry experts believe, however, that they were down some 8% in the month of April.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NYSE:FCAU) (FCA), has posted sales up 5%. But sales to dealers declined 1%, while sales to the fleets of companies renting, at a lower margin, increased by 5%.

If sales of the Jeep have registered a record, those of the pickup, Ram has decreased by 9%.

FCA said last week, on the occasion of the publication of its quarterly results, they have encountered production problems for its new Ram 1500 in its american factory in Sterling Heights.

Toyota (T:7203) has announced a 4.7% decrease in sales in April, an increase of 1.5% recorded by the SUV’s and pickups has not been enough to compensate for the drop of 12.7% of the sales of the dealers. Sales of its sedan Camry were down 5%.

Ford was losing 0.22% at the New York stock Exchange to 15: 45 GMT, while General Motors declined to 1.19% and the title Fiat withdrew more than 1%.

(Catherine Mallebay-Vacqueur for French service, edited by Wilfrid Exbrayat)

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