Auto makers will spend the day reporting in April sales and if most of the forecasters are correct, the number of vehicles rolling off dealer lots will be below those of one year earlier.
The first to report was Ford where overall U.S. sales declined 7.2 percent year over year. But there was some good news – average transaction prices increased $1,900 last month. Sales of Ford’s big F-150 truck were down fractionally, but average transaction pricing rose $3,700. Demand rose for the Escape and Expedition.
Total sales fell six percent at GM due, it said, to one less selling day in April over last year. Demand was strong for crossovers accounting for almost one third of all deliveries, compared to one in four five years ago. Average transaction prices rose more than $600 per unit to approximately $35,000.
“When you look at the broader economy, including a strong job market, rising wages, low inflation and low interest rates, and couple them to low fuel prices and strong consumer confidence, you have everything you need for auto sales to weather headwinds and remain at or near historic highs,” said Mustafa Mohatarem, GM chief economist.
April sales fell 7 percent at Fiat Chrysler as the company reduces sales to the daily rental segment. Retail sales were down a total of three percent. Ram truck sales rose 5 percent and demand was higher for the Dodge Journey Crossover, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the Pacifica minivan.
Continuing the theme, Toyota said overall sales were off 4.4 percent. Lexus sales declined 11 percent while the Toyota brand was off 3.5 percent. Lexus has high hopes for the LC500 and the LC500h that will be introduced later this month. April demand mirrored other makers with strong sales of the RAV4 crossover, trucks and the Highlander SUV.
We all like it when prices go down, and that is what happened to gasoline in the past week. AAA said the average price of a gallon of unleaded fell three cents to $2.39 a gallon. But that is 18 cents more than the national average one year earlier. AAA said we are seeing low demand across the country and ample supplies.