US Auto Sales Dropped In 2017, But Remain Strong

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Even though Camry's sales for all of 2017 dropped 0.4 percent, it was the best-selling auto in the USA for the 16th consecutive year.

Larger vehicles are grabbing even more market share from sedans, which Kelley estimated made up just 36 percent of the USA market a year ago, down from 50 percent in 2012.

Canada sold 302,826 vehicles in 2017, up 13.3 percent over the previous year, the company said, contrasting with sales in the much bigger US market where the Cadillac maker recorded a fall of 1.3 percent. Fiat Chrysler's sales fell 8 percent. Cadillac and Lexus both saw their sales drop 8 percent past year; Lincoln sales plummeted 17 percent in December.

The largest USA automaker said its dealer inventories at the end of 2017 were about 752,554 units, down 90,000 from a year ago, or about 63 days' supply.

General Motors was the top seller but had a drop of 1.4 percent.

"December capped off a record year for Ford brand SUVs", said Mark LaNeve, vice president of Ford US marketing, sales and service. The company also set a new annual sales record of 226,511 vehicles, a jump of 7.8% compared with all of 2016. Both auto manufacturers' December sales beat analyst's forecasts and ended a disappointing year on a brighter note. For the year, the company reported good news with total sales for 2017 increasing by 5.2% compared with 2016.

Ford's sales fell 1.1 percent to 2.6 million for the year compared to 2016, but it reported a surprise increase in December 2017 sales, fueled in part by the continued success of the F-Series pickups and other large vehicles.

Toyota's December sales fell 8.3 percent, as a 29.7 percent jump in sales of the new Camry sedan failed to offset declines across almost all other passenger auto models. Chevrolet was offering $11,000 off a 2017 Silverado pickup last month.

GM's overall December sales - retail and fleet - were down 3.3% and for the year, they fell 1.3% for the year. SUV sales fell 12% year over year in December.

- PILING ON THE DEALS: New vehicle prices hit a record previous year, averaging $36,113 as buyers bought bigger SUVs and added more safety and infotainment features, Kelley Blue Book said.

GM also published its December sales figures Wednesday, which showed total sales were 2% up on the same month in 2016.

The winning streak "was the result of pent-up demand after the recession that's finally just running out", said Tim Fleming, an analyst at Kelley Blue Book.