U.S. light-vehicle sales rose 1.2 percent in January with higher incentives and light-truck demand luring consumers even as severe cold temperatures across large swaths of the country put a chill in some showroom traffic.
The seasonally adjusted annual sales rate for January came in at 17.18 million, on par with the average estimate from analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, but down from 17.43 million in January 2017 and December’s blistering 17.86 million rate.
Higher fleet shipments, notably at GM, Toyota and Nissan, also helped the industry record its fourth-best January -- 1,157,407 car and light truck deliveries. The month is historically the weakest period of the year for volume.
Deliveries to fleets surged 48 percent last month for Nissan and 69 percent for Toyota, Bloomberg reported, citing Cox Automotive.
“We’re encouraged by the strength of the market,” Jack Hollis, general manager of the Toyota Division, said today.
Toyota Motor Corp. posted its biggest U.S. sales gain in nearly four years while Fiat Chrysler recorded another double-digit decline as automakers marked January with contrasting fortunes.
Toyota’s 17 percent advance reflected its biggest monthly jump since May of 2014. General Motors, with a boost from fleet sales, chalked up its fourth-straight monthly gain while Nissan Motor volume climbed 10 percent.
Ford Motor Co. ended a four-month winning streak with a 6.3 percent decline. FCA US extended its losing skid to 17 months while continuing to slash fleet deliveries.
Company by company
GM notched a 1.3 percent advance last month. Volume rose 5 percent at Chevrolet thanks to truck and crossover demand. Buick was up 4 percent, while GMC dropped 11 percent and Cadillac fell 3.9 percent.
GM retail deliveries dipped 2 percent and fleet sales rose 16 percent. Combined commercial and government deliveries jumped 44 percent; daily rental volume was off 7 percent.
U.S. sales of the Chevrolet Equinox, Traverse, Trax and Bolt EV each set January records. Demand for the Colorado pickup spiked 25 percent and Silverado volume jumped 15 percent.
Ford Motor’s 6.3 percent decline stemmed from a 23 percent decline in car volume and a 12 percent drop in fleet shipments.
Deliveries were down 5.2 percent at the Ford division and 27 percent at Lincoln. In addition to the decline in fleet volume, Ford said retail sales dropped 4.3 percent last month.
At Honda Motor Co., volume slipped 1.7 percent last month on lower Honda CR-V and Accord demand. Deliveries fell 1.6 percent at the Honda brand and 3.2 percent at Acura.
Nissan Motor Co. said its sales rose 10 percent, with volume up 12 percent to a January record of 112,903 at the Nissan brand but down 8 percent at Infiniti. Combined sales of Nissan brand crossovers, trucks and SUVs set a January record, up 18 percent, the company said.