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US auto sales rose more than expected in May, even as some of the largest carmakers reported big declines.
According to Autodata, sales rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17.45 million, higher than Bloomberg’s consensus forecast for 17.4 million. Sales were lower on a year-on-year basis.
GM reported the largest decline, of 18%. RBC attributed the drop to “continued planned reduction in rental deliveries” according to Bloomberg.
Chrysler was the only one out of the big three that had a positive month. Ford sales fell 6.1%.
At first glance, the declines look discouraging following a record year for car sales in the US.
However, as Business Insider’s Matthew DeBord wrote, sales are not that much lower than the record of 17.5 million new cars and trucks sold from dealer lots.
Also, some slowdown was to be expected, since sales have been partly driven by the historically high age of the total US vehicle fleet – 11 years. As this number falls, sales are likely to follow lower.
Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst pointed out in a note ahead of the data that sales in 2016 through May are up about 2% year on year. But the tough comparisons will be from August through November, when in 2015, sales averaged about 18 million.
Here’s the final scoreboard:
- GM: -18% (-13% expected) Volkswagen: -17.2% Toyota: -9.6% (-8% expected) Ford: -6.1% (-4.9% expected) Honda: -4.8% (-4.3% expected) Mazda: -4.3% Mercedes Benz: -1% Nissan: -1% (-1% expected) Fiat Chrysler: +1.1% (-0.7% expected) Subaru of America: +1.1% Hyundai: +12%