By on August 1, 2017

2016 Chevrolet Impala LTZ Detroit - Image: GMAs U.S. auto sales are forecasted to fall between 5 and 6 percent in July 2017, the reports released this morning by the traditional Detroit Three — General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles — appear to be worse than average.

Due to decreased year-over-year volume at each of its four brands, including a harsh 30-percent decrease at Buick, General Motors plunged 15 percent to 226,107 sales. That loss equalled 41,151 fewer sales for America’s largest automobile seller. At Ford Motor Company, total sales fell 7 percent despite rising F-Series sales. Car volume tumbled 19 percent at Ford and Lincoln, and SUV/crossover sales were up only slightly. At FCA, meanwhile, a 10-percent overall decline was caused by decreased volume at Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, and Fiat.

Fortunately, there remain reasons for optimism.

All-new 2017 Jeep® Compass Limited - Image: JeepAt each automaker, much of the decline was caused by huge reductions in fleet sales. At FCA, a 35-percent reduction in less profitable fleet sales — sales that are often not of long-term benefit to FCA — resulted in 90 percent of FCA volume coming on the retail side of the ledger. The Jeep Compass, the most recent major FCA launch, produced its best July ever with 7,528 sales. Ram P/U sales were essentially flat despite company-wide declines. And despite mountains of negative press ensuing from breakdowns and software maladies, July’s 1,104 sales represented the best month yet for the Alfa Romeo Giulia.

At Ford, retail demand dipped only slightly, falling 1 percent to 159,492 units. It was a huge 26-percent fleet sales decrease that produced much of the Blue Oval’s 7.4-percent decline. Ford says the average transaction price on its F-Series trucks jumped $2,500 compared with a year ago to $45,000 per truck, and Super Duty ATPs rose by roughly $4,600 to $55,000 per truck. Although Lincoln’s utility vehicles reported across-the-board decreases, Ford brand SUVs/crossovers were up 3 percent. The Escape, Edge, and Explorer jumped 8 percent to 60,401 sales. F-Series volume rose 6 percent to 69,467 units.2017 Ford F250 Super Duty - Image: FordGeneral Motors relied on profitable crossovers and pickup trucks for four-fifths of the company’s July 2017 U.S. volume. Utilities formed 85 percent of Buick’s sales. GM says incentive spending in July was lower than the 2016 average while the company’s average transaction prices stood at $36,000, up about $1,000 compared with July 2016.

According to Kurt McNeil, GM’s vice president of sales operations, “We have strategically decided to reduce car production rather than increase incentive spending or dump vehicles into daily rental fleets, like some of our competitors.” GM’s sales to daily rental fleets were down 81 percent in July, forming 1 percent of the company’s volume, GM says.

If there are positive signs, why did Detroit sales tank?

Because of cars.

At General Motors, car sales fell 28 percent, year-over-year, a loss of nearly 18,000 sales. At Ford Motor Company, car volume fell by nearly a fifth, a loss of 11,595 sales caused in large part by the Fusion’s 42-percent slide to sub-14K levels. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ car sales fell 18 percent to only 19,409 units at Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, and Alfa Romeo. That’s only 12 percent of the company’s total July U.S. volume.

[Image: GM, FCA, Ford]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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53 Comments on “General Motors, Ford, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles All Suffer Big U.S. Sales Drops in July...”

  • avatar

    The Jeep Compass, the most recent major FCA launch, produced its only July ever with 7,528 sales.

    Fixed it for you.

    As well, keeping things in perspective is warranted. I can’t speak for Ford or GM but I know FCA did very well financially in the 2nd quarter. For all the guffaws from analysts regarding the plan to pay down their debt by 2018, FCA’s track record since that commitment was made shows it to be quite doable.

    Sergio for President, 2020?

    • 0 avatar

      True. But it’s going to be a strong product for Jeep, no doubt.

    • 0 avatar

      @NoID, what did you fix? FCA sold just under 7000 Compasses last July and 7528 this past month. It was a major change to an existing vehicle. Trying to figure out, what was your purpose for making this foolish statement was and then to claim you “fixed” it?

      I surely hope you don’t think you are clever.

      • 0 avatar

        @FOG, The Compass of today shares only a name with the Compass of yesterday. To say that the current Compass had sales last year does not properly communicate that fact. Include the consideration that one can still purchase the Compass of today alongside the Compass of yesterday on the same dealer lots, and potentially with the same model year associated with both, and you’ve got quite a murky comparison indeed.

        The bigger question is why you’re butthurt about it.

    • 0 avatar

      FCA’s sales position seems okay.

      Most of their drop is from things they killed off (Dart, 200, Patriot). The only real stinkers on their continuing models are the Cherokee and the Fiat brand.

      Even their cars are doing decent. The Charger and 300 seem to have stopped the bleeding from earlier this year and were actually up in July, the Challenger is up YOY, while the Giulia is over 1000 and outselling the competition from some established brands.

  • avatar

    As a former hourly worker I’ve weathered many short term lay offs. Certainly not an ideal situation. That being said, I’m glad to see the domestics not flooding the market with fleet sales.

  • avatar

    Here’s GM from July.

    Total Cadillac “car” sales : 2996
    Total Alpha platform sales : 7166
    Total large FWD sedan sales : 4601

    Silverado down 15%, Sierra down 11%, Tahoe down 19%, Suburban down 33%. That’s probably the biggest story for them, IMO.

    The Camaro is now GM’s third best-selling “car”.

    On the plus side, the mid-size CUVs are doing well across every brand (5500 XT5 sales) and the Colorado is still strong.

    • 0 avatar

      “Silverado down 15%, Sierra down 11%, Tahoe down 19%, Suburban down 33%.”

      It’s nothing short of incredible that GM full-size, 1/2 ton and presumably 3/4 ton pickup trucks have fallen that much YoY, and the same is true of Tahoe and Suburban sales YoY. Tahoe down nearly 20% and Suburban down 33%?

      See my post about Cadillac above.

      The trend in pickup trickle and SUV sales (such as Tahoe & Suburban) are strong indicators of the future health of the D 2.5, and in many past economic periods, among the best leading indicators of overall health and future performance of the U.S. economy, writ large.

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        F-Series sales were up and RAM sales were flat. GM is getting killed by Ford on the high end and RAM on the low end. It’s not going to stop either. FCA is going to keep Warren Truck cranking out the current RAM after the new truck starts rolling off the line in SHAP.

        • 0 avatar

          “GM is getting killed by Ford on the high end and RAM on the low end”

          A large part of the market are luxury pickups. The High Country and Denali are outgunned by Ford’s Limited, Platinum and even King Ranch. FCA has the Laramie, Laramie Long Horn and Laramie Limited. Ford and FCA’s lowest luxury trim level is on par if not better than what GM has to offer.

      • 0 avatar
        Secret Hi5

        “Pickup trickle”
        -Is that like moisture dripping from the tailpipe? Could be a swollen catalytic converter squeezing the exhaust.

    • 0 avatar

      Alfa is out selling the ATS and CTS.
      Also 99 Alfa CUV sales recorded in July.

      • 0 avatar

        Alfa outselling the ATS and CTS is just the latest feather in Johan’s cap.

        Seriously, Cadillac needs to:

        1) Fire with EXTREME PREJUDICE the absolutely, breathtakingly incompetent Johan “Let Me Pull and Infinity @ Cadillac” de Nysschen, Melody “what I wear to work, yo” Lee and Uwe “Calligraphy Pen Boy” Ellinghaus, and his SoHo ball-washers en masse,

        2) Shutter the ridiculous SoHo Cadillac office and the even more ridiculous Cadillac Hause du Coffee,

        3) FIRE WITH HASTE Cadillac’s ad agency, Publicis (a disaster) ((GM needs to get different ad agencies for Buick and Chevy, while they’re at it – stat),

        4) Scrap the ATS, CTS and CT6, which only further tarnish what remains of Cadillac’s image, with each passing day that they rot on Cadillac lots,

        5) Radically restructure Cadillac and take what remains of the 12 billion Mary freakin’ Barra wired to Johan that has not yet been spent, to completely redevelop platforms and chassis’ for a new generation of Cadillac vehicles, having completely unique (to GM) drivetrains, engines, suppliers of trim and other materials.

        6) Cull by 1/2 and completely remake Cadillac Dealerships in the image of Lexus Dealerships (including training of sales and service personnel).

        It’s do or die time for Cadillac.

        • 0 avatar
          Adam Tonge

          *insert GIF of The Rock standing and clapping*

        • 0 avatar

          “having completely unique (to GM) drivetrains, engines, suppliers of trim and other materials.”

          So you want all the Caddies to cost $90k? The only reason they exist *at all* is because it lets GM use their existing supply chain to sell something with a decent margin on it.

          • 0 avatar

            “So you want all the Caddies to cost $90k? The only reason they exist *at all* is because it lets GM use their existing supply chain to sell something with a decent margin on it.”

            Margins are completely irrelevant if adult humans with credit scores over 600 won’t actually sign on the dotted line for one.

        • 0 avatar

          Cadillac can start by constantly not renaming their products. It hurts a chance to build product loyalty.

  • avatar

    Cadillac had a 21.7% drop in fleet sales, Year-Over-Year, and …

    …’Cadillac had a 22% drop in RETAIL SALES Year-Over-Year sales, even when including comparisons only showing retail Escalade & retail XT5 (that’s 5 as in $5 Subway Soylent Green foot-long prices, not S as in sh!ttily run division with incompetent management).

    This, at a time of near record auto sales coming off of record auto sales in 2015…

    *Bonus: The domestic 2.5 have put themselves in nearly a similar position as the early 1990s and early 2000s when SUVs (and precursors to CUVs) were generating a massively disproportionate amount of their sales, revenue and nearly all of their net profit.

    I see so many parallels to 1996-1999 and 2004-2007 that it’s eerie.

  • avatar

    At this point, the big 3 would do better to spend their extra production capacity building refineries and exploring for oil. They are OK but not strong with crossovers compared to foreign brands, and I imagine pickup sales will be hit hard if gas prices spike.

  • avatar

    Sales go up, sales go down, nothing new here. If anything I’m thinking the number of caw owners and buyers in America is slowing down.

  • avatar

    Fracking, finance, fentanyl, and the F-Series. Let the good times roll.

  • avatar

    My girl left me thout a dime, I’m feelin’ so sub-prime, need a big Ford pick-me-up and an opiate lift-me-up.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “We have strategically decided to reduce car production rather than increase incentive spending or dump vehicles into daily rental fleets, like some of our competitors.”

    That sets off the BS detector.

    TTAC is they’re ‘strategically’ building fewer cars because *nobody* is buying them.

  • avatar

    Didn’t Hyundai / Kia tank as well? BMW didn’t do all that well either. Why are they not also in your headline?

  • avatar

    Now if they’d only quit ignoring one potentially profitable market segment…

  • avatar

    Mary Barra’s plan for GM has failed. Time for her to pack her bags.

  • avatar

    I wish President Trump would stop praising the stock market every time it makes a new high, the stock market does not reflect or discount anything, it is as reliable as a meth-head.

  • avatar

    When sales dip like this, does that mean it’s a good time to buy? Or does it mean makers increase prices to beef up margins? Or is it better to buy when sales are hot?

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