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U.S. car sales fell slightly in the third quarter despite gains in September

Tom Krisher, AP Autowriter

DETROIT (AP) — US new car sales fell slightly in the third quarter despite some automakers reporting an improvement in September. But there are warning signs that consumer appetite for expensive new cars, trucks and SUVs may be waning. said on Monday that sales fell 0.9% from July to September, with most automakers reporting declines. General Motors was a notable exception, recording a significant increase.

Many companies, including GM, said September sales rose as shortages of computer chips and other components began to ease, allowing auto factories to produce more and increasing vehicle supply. rice field. But analysts said the monthly rally may be short-lived due to soaring prices and higher interest rates.

TrueCar Industry Analyst Zack Krelle said: “Consumers are facing the reality that they are forced to increase their down payment to buy the same vehicle at the same monthly rate as last year, creating an affordability challenge.”

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New car prices averaged $45,622 last month, the fourth-highest monthly price on record, according to JD Power. In addition, the average auto loan interest rate reached 5.7% from July to September, up from 4.3% a year ago.

Still, General Motors led the industry in the quarter, selling more than 555,000 vehicles, a 24% increase over last year. The company said semiconductor supply has improved, production has become more stable, and dealer lot inventories have increased. GM said the number of GM vehicles in transit or in dealer lots increased by more than 111,000 from the second quarter to 359,292 in the previous quarter.

Sales of Bolt electric and utility vehicles have more than tripled, to about 15,000 combined, and plans to increase production to 44,000 for global sale this year, according to the automaker. The company barely managed to sell the Volt last year due to a recall due to a battery fire.

Honda, which was hit hard in the summer by parts shortages that cut shipments to dealers, said September was its best sales month since May as it overcame transportation problems. Still, September sales were down 17% year-over-year, and he was down 36% for the quarter.

Sales vice president Mamadou Diallo said in a statement that Honda expects production to increase in the fourth quarter as it introduces new models. “The pipeline is being strengthened,” he said.

Toyota’s sales fell 7.1% from last year’s third quarter, while Sterantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler) reported a 6% decline, while Nissan fell nearly 23%. Hyundai increased its quarterly sales by 3.3%, while Volkswagen also increased by 12%.

Although sales have been sluggish for most of this year, automakers are selling rare vehicles for above asking prices from consumers who want or need new wheels. As a result, automakers and dealers made big profits.

Ivan Drury, Director of Insights at, said there’s been a lot of “delayed demand” for new cars this year. But he warned that macroeconomic trends are starting to deteriorate as inflation weighs on the monthly budget and the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates to offset it. House prices are expected to fall soon, lowering personal wealth as interest rates raise monthly payments.

“I think it’s ultimately going to get worse with interest rates and inflation concerns,” Mr. Drury said.

Even with high trade-in prices, monthly payments are exorbitant, and if unemployment starts to rise, car sales could start to decline, he said.

“The potential pool of consumers who have cash to spare or who don’t care what they pay will shrink rapidly as these other factors come into play,” he said.

Drury said people were paying an average of $700 more than the sticker price to buy a vehicle during the summer. However, the recent drop to the high $200s is a sign the market is cooling, he said.

Most automakers reported sales on Monday. Ford is expected to release its numbers on Tuesday. Edmunds’ figures include estimates from both companies.

Telsa reported a 35% increase in global sales in the second quarter compared to the second quarter as its giant factory in China weathered supply chain issues and pandemic restrictions. The electric vehicle and solar panel company said Sunday that it sold 343,830 passenger cars and his SUVs in the third quarter. However, its sales fell short of analyst expectations.

Tesla does not break down sales by country or region.

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