Auto sales, believed to have dropped in 2017, remain strong

Investors ignore sales outlook

While sales fell short of 2016's record of 17.55 million, 2017 was still the fourth-best sales year in US history, after 2000, 2015 and 2016, according to Kelley Blue Book.

But the automaker stated it anticipates the industry to sell lower than 17 million new vehicles in this year. Fiat Chrysler reported a decline of 8 percent compared with 2016.

"December capped off a record year for Ford brand SUVs, making it eight consecutive years of Ford brand sales leadership", said Mark LaNeve, Ford vice president of sales, service and marketing.

Honda's U.S. sales rose 0.2% for the year to 1.6 million.

Toyota posted an 8.3% decrease in December sales, in line with analyst estimates, while Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. trailed projections with declines of 9.5% and 7%, respectively. Mercedes-Benz was the top selling luxury brand, even with a sales decline of 1 percent.

The migration of consumers to larger, more expensive vehicles, especially luxury pickup trucks and crossovers, has come as easier credit and longer auto loans have enabled people to buy or lease vehicles they might have once considered unaffordable. Its most popular vehicle this year was the Dodge Ram truck, which saw sales jump 10 per cent to 98,465.

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"In 2017, we had solid GDP growth and good news on employment, wages and consumer sentiment, which helped deliver very strong retail sales for the auto industry", G.M. chief economist Mustafa Mohatarem said.

Toyota's December sales fell 8.3 percent, as a 29.7 percent jump in sales of the new Camry sedan failed to offset declines across almost all other passenger auto models.

Despite the usual year-end push to get vehicles out the door, most automakers endured tough sledding in December.

Ford's sales fell 1.1 percent to 2.6 million for the year compared to 2016, but it reported a surprise increase in December 2017 sales, fueled in part by the continued success of the F-Series pickups and other large vehicles. But some luxury brands struggled.

But GM said it expected the industry to sell less than 17 million new vehicles in 2018. The GM plant in Oshawa is being repurposed to start producing GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverdo trucks starting this month.

Meanwhile, as the Canadian government continues to look at ways to increase electric-vehicle adoption, GM's electric vehicles account for a small portion of its overall sales.

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