U.S. auto sales dropped in February

Automakers on Friday reported a decrease in U.S. light vehicle sales for February as demand for SUVs reduced after years of rapid growth, pointing to a decline in total sales in 2019.

Toyota Motor, reported a 5.2 percent decline in sales to 172,748 vehicles because of declines in its flagship Camry sedan along with its Tundra pickup trucks and Sienna minivans.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) sales dropped 2 percent to 162,036 vehicles, because of reduced demand for its Jeep Compass and Renegade sport utility vehicles.

“The overall industry is starting off slower due in part to weather, the U.S. government shutdown, and tension over tax refunds,” Reid Bigland, Fiat Chrysler’s U.S. head of sales, stated.

Analysts have stated that increasing interest rates on auto loans could limit demand this year. Higher interest rates translate into bigger monthly auto payments for people and could urge some of them to delay purchases.

General Motors and Ford Motor, the leading U.S. automakers, have stopped reporting monthly auto sales figures.

Automotive News, an automotive website, estimated that Ford’s U.S. light-vehicle sales decreased 4.4 percent last month.

Industry consultants J.D. Power and LMC Automotive have predicted U.S. auto sales to fall about 1 percent to 1.29 million vehicles in February.

Honda Motor reported a 0.4 percent drop in U.S. vehicles sales to 115,159 units, where as Nissan Motor’s sales plunged 12 percent to 114,342 units in February.

A poll of economists by Reuters anticipate U.S. car and light truck sales to drop to 16.80 million units on yearly terms in February, from 17.01 million units a year ago.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to put a 25 percent tariff on imported cars can also hit to vehicle demand and profits for automakers, analysts state.

J.D. Power and LMC Automotive have projected that tariffs could impact full-year demand by around 700,000 units.

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