All the major automakers reported weaker-than-expected April sales on Tuesday, signaling that the market may have peaked after seven straight years of record-setting numbers.
Sales rose at an annualized rate of 16.88 million, a fourth straight year-on-year decline, according to Autodata. They were estimated to rise at a rate of 17.10 million, according to Bloomberg.
Here’s the scoreboard:
- Ford: -7.1% (-4.7% expected) GM: -5.8% (-2% expected) Fiat Chrysler: -7% (-5.9% expected) Nissan: -1.5% (1.5% expected) Toyota: -4.4% (-4.2% expected) Honda: -7% (-5.3% expected) Volvo: 15%
“There is some validity to the idea that we’ve hit a plateau,” said Alec Gutierrez, a senior market analyst at Kelley Blue Book. “Even with a slowdown, we’re still on the high end of what would be the norm of US auto sales.”
Lower spending on cars subtracted from economic growth in the first quarter. The advance estimate of gross domestic product released on Friday showed that consumer spending rose by just 0.3%, the lowest since Q4 2009, as the economy grew 0.7%. Durable goods, which include cars, were a key drag on consumption.
A decline in sales this year would mark the first annual decrease since 2009.
Even after offering steep discounts and incentives, dealers have been unable to move more sedans from their floors as shoppers opt instead for SUVs. Ford’s F-series trucks were strong as its sedan sales slowed, Toyota’s Rav 4 outsold Camry, and Fiat Chrysler’s Jeep sales were down in April.
Shares of major carmakers and parts suppliers fell in trading as the sales numbers rolled in.