The new year did not change the shift in consumer preference.
“This is a global phenomena,” said Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist for Cox Automotive. “Consumers love crossovers and aren’t interested in cars anymore.”
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The Chevrolet Cruze, a compact car built at the General Motors Lordstown Assembly Complex, saw a 45.5 percent drop in sales down to 9,245 from 17,278 sold in January 2017, GM said Thursday.
A hatchback version of the Cruze built in Mexico had 1,433 sales in January 2018, down from 2,671 sales in January 2017.
Cruze production at the Lordstown plant is down today because of an unspecified supplier issue. Production will resume Monday.
General Motors reported a 20 percent year-over-year gain in the crossover segment in January and a 7 percent increase in truck deliveries.
Before advancements in fuel technology, consumers’ concerns over gas prices led them to buy cars.
“There’s really no savings to be had [now],” Chesbrough said.
The road will remain tough for cars, he said.
“I don’t see them coming back anytime soon,” he said.
What also affects Cruze sales is GM’s move to pull back on fleet sales, said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst for Autotrader.
In total, GM sold 198,548 vehicles in January, up more than 1 percent year over year.
Chevrolet crossover sales were up 40 percent. The all-new Equinox and Traverse, and the Trax and Bolt EV, all posted their best-ever January sales, the automaker noted.
While the strength of the economy has benefitted the industry, the expected rise in interest rates will result in higher interest rates on auto loans, Chesbrough said. But the increase in take-home pay from the tax reform should benefit the industry.
“The expectation is that consumers this week will start to see more money in their take-home pay [and] in theory that will be a big plus for the economy because people will have more spending money,” Chesbrough said. “Whether it will be a home run for everybody, we don’t know.”
Ford posted January U.S. sales of 161,143, down 6.6 percent from the previous year.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US LLC reported January sales of 132,803 vehicles, a 13 percent decrease compared with sales in January 2017.
American Honda Motor Co. Inc. reported January sales of 104,542 Honda and Acura vehicles, a decrease of 1.7 percent.
Toyota Motor North America reported January 2018 sales of 167,056 vehicles, an increase of 16.8 percent.
There were 25 sales days in January 2018 and 24 sales days in January 2017.