U.S. light-vehicle sales dropped 1 percent in January, with higher fleet shipments offsetting lower retail volume, as the government shutdown and severe cold that blasted the Midwest this week dampened consumer demand.
The seasonally adjusted, annualized rate of sales for January came in at 16.9 million, down from 17.22 million in January 2018 and December’s 17.72 million rate, and marked the first month the pace of sales has dropped below 17 million since August.
Cars remain a weak spot across the industry, falling 4 percent last month, while light-truck deliveries rose just 0.3 percent.
January is typically one of the lowest months of the year for industry sales, with the least bearing on the year’s final results.
Still, solid economic growth, employment gains, low gasoline prices and available credit continue to support light-vehicle demand, analysts said, even as consumers face higher financing costs.
Ford, Honda and Fiat-Chrysler chalked up sales increases during the month while Toyota and Nissan tumbled as the industry felt the impact of the U.S. government shutdown and record-breaking cold on its first monthly scorecard of the year.
Fiat-Chrysler posted a 2.5 percent rise, aided by big boosts in incentive spending and fleet shipments. Light-truck sales lifted American Honda 1.5 percent, while Ford Motor Co. ended a four-month sales skid with a 7.1 percent increase.
Sales at Toyota Motor North America, meanwhile, dropped for the eighth time in the last 10 months, down 6.6 percent. And Nissan Group slid 19 percent amid an ongoing effort to cut back on fleet sales.
Read the full story at autoweek.com.