Mark LaNeve, Ford Motor Co.'s vice president for U.S. marketing, sales and service, said he expects robust demand in the latter half of the year and doesn't see production cuts needed to control inventories.
"What needs to be low is still low: unemployment, interest rates, gas prices," LaNeve said on Ford's sales call last week. "What needs to be high is still high: consumer confidence; the housing market is nowhere near to historic highs; average age of the vehicles on the road is still over 11 years; average age of pickups -- half of them on the road are over 11 years. So, lots of reason to believe that we've got a very strong industry."
IHS Automotive said it's still confident in its full-year forecast for the industry of 17.8 million light-vehicle sales, which would be 1.8 percent more than in 2015.
"The outlook for the year remains for another record year, and nothing in May's results suggests otherwise," Stephanie Brinley, an IHS senior analyst, wrote in an email. "SUVs continue to perform well, to the detriment of car sales, and generally brands with stronger SUV lineups are reaping the rewards."
Record market share of 5.9 percent for Jeep, whose sales rose 14 percent, and an 81 percent increase in minivan sales pushed FCA ahead of its domestic rivals to become the industry leader in light trucks last month. It sold 170,277 trucks, compared with 167,433 for Ford Motor Co. and 166,647 for GM. A year ago, GM's trucks outsold FCA's by almost 43,000 and Ford's by nearly 34,000.
GM attributed its 15.7 percent May market share -- down from 20.8 percent five years earlier -- largely to a cutback in fleet deliveries and Japanese-made part supply disruptions that hampered launches of the Chevrolet Cruze and other new products. GM's retail sales fell 13 percent from last May, and total sales of the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra fell 11 percent.
Full-size pickups were an exception to the gains for light trucks, with a 3.1 percent decline. Ford was the only automaker to post higher sales in that segment, as the F series rose 9 percent in May and widened its year-to-date lead over the Silverado to more than 100,000 units.