U.S. August sales fall after six years of increases
As most analysts predicted, U.S. sales for August slowed, falling 3.5 percent, in what many believe is the start of a plateau that could end a six-year run of rising sales. The seasonally adjusted annual sales rate (SAAR) was just below 17 million for the first time in many months.
Two of the Detroit Three saw sales drop, with Ford falling 8 percent and General Motors down 5 percent. Fiat Chrysler, using more incentives, posted a 3 percent increase. The major Japanese manufacturers, stronger in cars than the crossovers and light trucks that currently dominate the market, all saw sales decrease.
Auto sales continue to be driven by low fuel prices and solid employment and housing. Some analysts say those factors mean thereês still room for auto sales to grow; others say weak auto sales when those conditions are present are a bad sign for future sales.
Transaction prices rose, hitting an average of $34,143 in August, Kelley Blue Book estimated. But, said KBB analyst Tim Fleming, incentives also have steadily climbed, and the ratio of incentive spend to average transaction price is at its highest point since 2009, at 9.3 percent. Automakers will soon need to moderate incentives and production so they can maintain residuals, he said.Download Bulletin PDF