U.S. auto sales fell 2% to 17.2 million in 2017, according to Autodata Corp. It was their first year-over-year decline since 2009, but still the fourth-best sales year in U.S. history, after 2000, 2015 and 2016, according to Kelley Blue Book.
Most major automakers reported lower December U.S. sales, while forecasting weaker overall sales in 2018. GM said it expects the industry to sell less than 17 million new vehicles in 2018.
According to Autodata, the seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of U.S. car and light truck sales in December fell to 17.9 million units from 18.2 million in December 2016.
GM reported a 3.3% drop in sales in December, driven by a decline in lower-margin fleet sales to government agencies and rental car companies. GM’s retail sales were up 1.8%.
The Detroit automaker said its average transaction price hit US$ 35,400 in 2017, above the industry average of US$ 31,600.
Ford reported a 0.9% increase in sales for December, fueled by a 17% increase in fleet sales. The No. 2 U.S. automaker said its retail sales were down 4%.
Fiat Chrysler posted an 11% sales decrease, with retail sales dropping 3%. Fleet sales slumped 42%, in line with a company strategy over the last year to cut back on this low-margin way to unload product.
Toyota Motor Corp said its sales fell 8.3% in December, with decreases across all segments. Honda Motor Co Ltd posted a 7% drop in sales in December, driven mostly by declining passenger car sales. Meanwhile Nissan Motor Co Ltd reported a 9.5% drop in sales.