Despite gas prices nearing US$ 3 a gallon for the first time in years, U.S. auto sales exceeded all expectations with a 4.7% increase during May to 1.59 million vehicles, boosted by a strong job market, light-truck demand and holiday deals. It is the third increase in monthly sales this year.
The seasonally adjusted, annualized sales rate (SAAR) for May totaled 16.91 million, according to Autodata, down from 17.21 million in April, but above estimates by Cox Automotive, J.D. Power and Edmunds. It was the first time the SAAR fell below 17 million since August 2017.
Sales are now up 1.2% from January through May, but most analysts still predict it will be an overall decline in sales volume at the end of year.
For the 12th consecutive month, car sales in Mexico fell during May. The decline on this occasion was 6.9% as result of the sale of 114,492 units, according to the Mexican Auto Dealers Association.
Year-to-date sales are now of 560,986 vehicles through May, which represents an 8.9% decrease. Given the latest figures, AMDA expects total sales ranging from 1.45 to 1.50 million units in 2018.
Canada’s auto sales saw a marginal slide in May for the third month in a row. A total of 215,407 vehicles were sold, down 0.7% from the 216,861 units sold in same month of 2017, but well ahead of 191,900 in April, according to research firm DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.
Passenger cars saw a 9.4% decline to 68,070 units while light truck sales rose 4% to 147,337 units, accounting for nearly 69% of overall sales.
DesRosiers reports Ford’s 33,341 units edged out General Motors at 32,831 units in May for the volume lead, but GM is still ahead of Dearborn-based automaker by almost 3,000 units on a year-to-date basis, with 127,299 units sold so far in 2018. Meanwhile, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles posted a sales decrease of 15%.
Canada is the second most important destination for Mexico’s auto exports with 61,721 vehicles during the first quarter of 2018, accounting for 7.4% of the country’s shipments. However, those figures represent a 5.8% decline if compared to the same period of 2017.