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GM largest loser as US sales slip - Hyundai, Subaru buck downward trend

Published:Sunday | June 5, 2016 | 12:00 AM
The General Motors logo.
The Forester, which is doing well for Subaru.


United States car buyers are tapping the brakes. Sales of cars, trucks, and SUVs fell six per cent last month to 1.54 million, according to AutoData Corp. It was the biggest monthly drop in nearly six years. The decline was unusual for May, a month when Americans typically buy cars ahead of summer road trips. Most major automakers reported lower sales. General Motors' sales fell 18 per cent, Ford's slipped six per cent, and Toyota's sales dropped 10 per cent compared with the same month a year ago. Volkswagen's sales sank 17 per cent. Fiat Chrysler and Subaru bucked the trend, with sales up one per cent each and Hyundai's sales jumped 12 per cent.

The declines could be a sign that US auto sales are finally reaching a plateau after six straight years of growth a streak not seen since the 1920s. Sales rose six per cent between 2014 and 2015 but are only up 1.2 per cent so far this year.

The May results were enough for LMC Automotive, a forecasting firm, to lower its full-year sales prediction to 17.7 million, down from its previous target of 17.8 million. Still, other analysts were quick to point out that even if sales have hit a plateau, they can still break last year's record of 17.5 million.

At General Motors Co, the Chevrolet and Buick brands saw big declines. Sales of the Chevrolet Silverado pickup, the company's best-seller, dropped 13 per cent. GM blamed tight supplies of new products, including the Chevrolet Cruze small car, as well as planned reductions in sales to rental car fleets. GM's rental car sales were down 49 per cent.

Ford Motor Co said sales of its F-series pickup rose one per cent and its luxury Lincoln brand saw a seven per cent sales increase. But that couldn't make up for a 26 per cent decline in car sales. Ford's SUV sales were flat. Ford's overall sales dropped six per cent to 235,997. Toyota Motor Corp said sales of cars dropped 16 per cent, while SUV and truck sales fell 2.5 per cent. Sales of the Prius hybrid plummeted 36 per cent.

Honda Motor Co said sales fell five per cent. Honda brand sales fell just three per cent, and the HR-V subcompact SUV saw a 15 per cent sales gain. However, sales at the Acura division dropped 20 per cent.

Nissan Motor Co's sales fell one per cent to 133,496. Sales of Nissan and Infiniti trucks and SUVs rose six per cent, but car sales fell.

Volkswagen brand sales dropped 17 per cent to 28,779 as the fallout continues from the German automaker's diesel emissions cheating scandal.

Revamped SUVs helped Hyundai sales rise 12 per cent to 71,006. Sales of the Santa Fe SUV more than doubled over last year.

Fiat Chrysler sold just over 204,000 vehicles for its best May in 11 years. The all-SUV Jeep brand led the way, with sales up 14 per cent. But Chrysler brand sales fell 19 per cent as car sales faltered. Ram pickup sales fell three per cent.

Subaru's sales also rose one per cent to 50,083. Sales of its best-seller, the Forester SUV, were up one per cent.