Analysts: Car market share drops to record low

GM’s U.S. sales also dipped in August, analysts say

By Jordyn Grzelewski


August U.S. auto sales featured what analysts described as an industry record – the market share for cars dropped to its lowest level.

“For the first time in U.S. automotive history, monthly car share is on pace to dip below 30 percent,” said Zo Rahim, research manager for Cox Automotive. “This is a dramatic shift – car share was near 50 percent just five years ago.”

Some analysts had predicted the car’s market share would drop to about 30 percent sometime this year, but the decline was sooner and more significant than expected.

“That’s the big story. At the same time, we’re seeing the opposite be the case for sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks,” said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst for Autotrader.

General Motors, which produces the Lordstown-built Chevrolet Cruze, no longer releases monthly sales numbers, but analysts and media reports indicated the automaker’s U.S. auto sales declined in August compared with year-ago levels.

Edmonds estimated GM’s August sales were down at least 12.9 percent from year-ago levels. “I would have to believe they didn’t have a great car month, either,” Krebs said of GM, noting weak car sales reported by Toyota and Honda.

U.S. auto industry sales overall came in close to analysts’ expectations, driven by strong SUV and truck sales.

Analysts said while sales remain strong, there are signs of the auto market cooling.

“Even though we have this fantastic economic information [such as low unemployment rates] ... that’s not translating into record vehicle sales,” said Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist for Cox Automotive.

Chesbrough said analysts would expect stronger sales compared with last August when Hurricane Harvey had a detrimental impact on the auto industry.

Also, “The first day of the Labor Day weekend fell within the August reporting month, so we would expect vehicle sales to be quite a bit higher than August of last year, and we’re just not seeing that,” he said, adding a further slowdown could take place, especially since interest rates are expected to rise.

Fiat Chrysler’s sales were up 10 percent from August 2017.

American Honda sales were up 1.3 percent, with an 18.9 percent increase in truck sales and a 15.3 percent decline in car sales.

Toyota Motor North America reported its August sales were down 2 percent from August 2017.

Ford’s sales were up about 4.1 percent in August.

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