The so-called Big Three automakers reported March sales that were weaker than expected.
The declines for Ford, GM, and Fiat Chrysler happened as consumers bought fewer sedans and more SUVs, said Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst at the online marketplace AutoTrader.
“We’ve been saying for some time that sales have plateaued at a high level,” Krebs said during a conference call on Monday. “March seems to prove that out.”
Total vehicle sales rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 16.63 million, according to Autodata. That was short of the forecast for 17.30 million, according to Bloomberg.
Here’s the scoreboard:
- Nissan: 3% (2.8% expected)
- Ford: -7.2% (-5.9% expected)
- GM: 1.6% (7% expected)
- Fiat Chrysler: -5% (0.4% expected)
- Toyota: -2.1% (-1.2% expected)
- Subaru: 11.3%
- BMW: 3.5%
- Volvo: 9.3%
Automakers shares slid in trading following the numbers. Ford fell by as much as 2%, while GM dropped 3%.
The data on sales come as more Americans struggle to pay their car loans. The 60+ day delinquency rate for subprime auto loans is at the highest in at least seven years, according to Fitch.
Auto sales were driven to new highs partly because of the availability of cheap credit and incentives from auto makers.
After rising to a record high for a seventh straight year in 2016, the car market may have peaked for now. That’s intensifying competition for the remaining loan supply and driving up the credit risk for lenders, according to a Moody’s report released last week.
Tesla, which operates on its own calendar, reported record deliveries of its electric cars in the first quarter. Deliveries jumped 69% to 25,000, rebounding after delays in the previous quarter, the company said on Sunday.
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