New car sales for March: Winners and losers

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Source:   —  April 01, 2016, at 8:15 PM

S. sales gains in March as higher spending on incentives and powerful demand for light trucks were projected to lift the industry to another monthly advance.

New car sales for March: Winners and losers

Nissan, FCA and Ford indicate gains in the light truck segment

Nissan, Fiat Chrysler and Ford Motor chalked up solid U. S. sales gains in March as higher spending on incentives and powerful demand for light trucks were projected to lift the industry to another monthly advance.

Nissan Motor Co. led the way among the first companies to report with a thirteen % leap in March deliveries. FCA US and Ford Motor Co. each came in with advances in the eight % range. Common Motors deliveries rose 0.nine % while again touting a rise in retail sales and a drop in less-profitable fleet deliveries.

“As consumers continue to shift their buying preference toward utility vehicles and trucks, they're walking directly into the FCA wheelhouse,” said Reid Bigland, head of sales for FCA North America.

Vol at the Nissan div advanced thirteen % to a record 149.784 cars and light trucks. Deliveries rose ten % at Infiniti.

Sales of Nissan-branded crossovers, pickups and SUVs set a monthly record, with vol rising 9 percent, the company said today. The Nissan div’s car lineup also set a record, with deliveries of 88.278, an expand of sixteen percent.

Overall, the Nissan grouping’s car vol rose thirteen % in March while truck sales jumped twelve percent. Nissan’s U. S. incentives averaged $three.362 a vehicle latest month, an expand of five.six % over March two thousand fifteen, TrueCar estimated.

At Ford Motor Co., sales increased seven.8 percent, with vol rising 7.6 % at the Ford div and eleven % at Lincoln. Across the Ford and Lincoln lineups, truck vol rose eleven percent, utility vehicle sales jumped fourteen % and car deliveries skidded 1.6 % latest month.

"Customers continue buying high-end SUVs and trucks, helping the Ford brand expand its average transaction prices by more than $1.600 per vehicle in March – nearly double the industry average,” Tag LaNeve, Ford's vice president for U. S. marketing, sales and service, said in a statement. “We have been seeing solid sales momentum in the first quarter across our entire portfolio."

FCA US, led by another powerful mo for Jeep and higher discounts, posted an 8.1 % rise in March U. S. sales, marking the seventy-second consecutive mo that the company’s U. S. deliveries have advanced year over year.

Vol advanced fifteen % at Jeep and eleven % at the Ram and Dodge brands, while deliveries skidded thirteen % at the Chrysler brand and twenty-four % at Fiat, FCA said today.

Overall, the company’s light-truck sales rose twenty-three % while car vol skidded thirty-four percent.

TrueCar estimates that FCA’s spending on U. S. incentives rose fourteen % in March to $three.887 per vehicle.

At GM, vol rose 1.4 % at Chevrolet and 6.9 % at GMC, while deliveries dropped eleven % at Buick and 5.1 % at Cadillac.

GM this year is scaling back rental shipments to focus on retail volume.

GM said it delivered 193.524 vehicles to individual or “retail” customers in March, an expand of 6 percent. The gains reflect a 7 % expand in retail vol at Chevrolet and a thirteen % leap at GMC -- the automaker's two biggest divisions.

In the first quarter, GM said U. S. daily rental sales dropped by approximately 43.000 cars and light trucks, or about thirty-six percent, compared to the first three months of two thousand fifteen.

Other automakers will release March sales results later today. The industry is forecast to look another mo of gains, though some analysts declare growth in retail vol slowed during the month.

Among other major automakers, March sales are forecast to rise 5.6 % at Toyota Motor Corp. and sixteen % at Honda Motor Co., according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Vol is projected to fall 1.1 % at Hyundai/Kia and 5.4 % at the Volkswagen Grouping’s VW and Audi brands. Earlier today, Hyundai tweeted that it sold a record 75.310 vehicles in the U. S. last month.

Industry analysts polled by Bloomberg expect the seasonally adjusted sales rate to rise to seventeen.3 million from 17.14 million in March two thousand fifteen. The Feb SAAR came in at 17.53 million, and if March projections hold, the SAAR will have topped the 17 million label for eleven straight months.

GM today pegged the March SAAR at 17.1 million.

U. S. light-vehicle deliveries, aided by low gasoline prices, rising discounts and favorable financing terms, have climbed 3.4 % this year through Feb after rising 5.7 % to a record 17.47 million in 2015.

On a selling-day-adjusted basis, new-vehicle retail sales in March are expected to fall two % from a year ago, according to a joint sales forecast by J. D. Power and LMC Automotive. It'd be the first time there has been a year-over-year decline in sales on an adjusted basis since August two thousand ten, Power and LMC say.

March had twenty-seven selling days, compared with twenty-five in March 2015.

“The retail sales pace in March exhibited a slower-than-normal acceleration during the month,” said Deirdre Borrego, senior vice president and common manager of automotive data and analytics at J. D. Power.

New-vehicle sales continue to be fueled by incentives, elevated leasing and long-term loans. Low gasoline prices continue to drive demand higher for pickups, SUVs and crossovers while car sales remain weak.

Across the industry, TrueCar estimates incentive spending per vehicle rose ten % to $3.005 last mo compared with March 2015.

With retail sales softer, fleet could be “a material swing factor” in the final industry tally for March, Wells Fargo senior analyst Richard Kwas said in a report Thursday.

“March incentive actions will be fascinating to follow,” Kwas said in the report. “March is monetary year-end for the Japanese 3 and truck mo for the Detroit 3 has been in full gear. The Easter holiday landed on the latest weekend of the month -- not ideal for retail throughput.”

Kwas anticipates retail mix will speed up in the coming months as the industry enters the key spring and summer selling seasons.

And other analysts declare the industry remains well poised to finish the year higher despite some signs the market is plateauing.

“Auto sales aren't yet peaking, and the outlook for the year remains robust, even with some retail softness and noise in March,” said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive. “In fact, year-to-date vol is still nearly 5 percent ahead of year-to-date March 2015, leaving some room for extra volatility and the expected slower growth rates later in the year.”

The article “Nissan, FCA, Ford chalk up solid gains on truck volume” first appeared at Automotive News.

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