On Wednesday, major automakers reported mixed U.S. sales for the month of December due to big consumer discounts targeted at moving cars off dealer lots before the year ended. New vehicle sales for that month marked a strong year, almost meeting last year’s total of 17.55 million units sold. Automakers have been making profit from the shift of passenger cars to bigger pickup trucks and SUVs. This year’s forecast is aimed a little lower due to increased interest rates and a saturated market that can lead to higher monthly payments for consumers and reduce their purchasing power.
December sales for General Motors Company (NYSE: GM) reported a 3.3% drop that was mostly driven by a decline in lower margin fleet sales to rental car companies as well as government agencies. Retail sales were up 1.8% last month while sales were down 1.3% for the entire year. This year’s forecast for new U.S. vehicle sales is expected reach 16 million units.
Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) on the other hand reported a 0.9% increase in sales last month, driven by a 17% rise in fleet sales. The automaker’s retail sales were down 4% where pickup truck sales were 1% lower than last year’s.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV reported an 11% sales decrease and retail sales falling 3%. Their fleet sales also were down 42% following their strategy to cut back on low margins.