Automakers closed out 2019 selling 17.05 million new cars, trucks and SUVs, a 1.3% decrease compared with last year, according to published reports.
2019 marks the fifth straight year new vehicle sales topped 17 million, defying the odds that higher interest rates, average transaction prices, and tariff uncertainty would impact a solid sales environment for OEMs, noted Edmund’s Senior Manager of Industry Insights Jeremy Acevedo.
“If 2019 taught us anything, it’s that you can’t underestimate the power of a strong economy,” Acevedo said, noting that when there’s been a long streak of strong vehicle sales it’s natural to wonder when the trend will stop. “We don’t see that happening anytime soon,” he said.
Yet, major OEMs experienced yearend sales declines. General Motors’ year-over-year sales fell 2.5% as sales decreased across the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, and GMC brands, according to reports. The OEM also faced a 40-day strike by the United Auto Workers union, which cut into fourth-quarter inventories.
Meanwhile, Ford Motor sales fell 3.2% year over year, with full-year sales at 2.4 million. The OEM sold 601,862 vehicles in the fourth quarter, compared with 609,693 vehicles a year earlier.
Comparatively, Ford outsold GM on trucks, selling 1.2 million to GM’s 802,962 pickups last year.
Nissan’s 2019 U.S. sales fell 9.9% to 1.3 million units, while Fiat Chrysler’s sales declined 1.4% and Toyota’s sales dropped 1.8%.
Looking ahead to 2020, more than 60 new or refreshed models are expected to be introduced, which should “mitigate further degradation in overall sales,” according to a joint report by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.
In fact, OEMs are likely to “sweeten deals” for older models to move remaining inventory off their lots and make room for 2020 model year vehicles, noted ALG’s Chief Industry Analyst Eric Lyman.
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