Nissan, Ford sales rise behind strong truck volume

U.S. sales of the Edge increased 37 percent to 11,036 last month — its best October performance since its launch in 2007, Ford said. Photo credit: DAVID PHILLIPS

UPDATED: 11/1/17 10:11 am ET

Ford and Nissan posted higher U.S. sales in October as the industry looked to maintain momentum after a strong September. General Motors projected a seasonally adjusted annual sales rate of 18 million. That would be the second-strongest month of the year and much higher than most projections.

Forecasts from LMC Automotive, Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds call for a 2 percent to 4 percent decline in industry sales in October. The U.S. new-vehicle market, after seven straight annual gains capped by a record 2016, was off 1.7 percent through September.

Here’s a rundown of how each company fared in October, followed by forecasts for the month, the incentive climate, and other context.


Ford posted a 6.2 percent gain in October sales on stronger truck, crossover and fleet deliveries. Volume rose 6.6 percent at the Ford division but fell 1.8 percent at Lincoln.

Ford said truck sales increased 11 percent and SUV volume rose 5.3 percent, offsetting a 2.4 percent dip in car volume. Retail volume rose 3.5 percent and fleet deliveries rose 15 percent.




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GM sales fell 2.2 percent behind a drop of 3.8 percent at Chevrolet. Volume slipped 4.5 percent at Buick and 0.1 percent at Cadillac, but rose 4.6 percent at GMC.

While GM’s truck and crossover sales were strong, car volume skidded 24 percent to 52,800 units last month.


Strong truck and crossover demand helped Nissan Motor Co. sales rise 8.4 percent last month to 123,012 — an October record — with a 10 percent gain at the Nissan brand offsetting an 8.1 percent decline at Infiniti.


Lower fleet sales — 23,220 units, down 43 percent in October — continue to undermine overall results at FCA US, which reported a decline of 13 percent. Five of FCA’s six major brands — Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, Ram and Fiat — posted declines.

October predictions

Analysts expect October to produce the year’s second-best month for new-vehicle sales, on a SAAR basis, partly due to surging demand in states recovering from hurricane damage, though volume is projected to fall slightly from the same month last year.

Forecasts from LMC Automotive, Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds call for a 2 percent to 4 percent decline in industry sales in October. The U.S. new-vehicle market, after seven straight annual gains capped by a record 2016, was off 1.7 percent through September.

SAAR forecasts

Analysts polled by Bloomberg expect the seasonally adjusted sales rate for October to come in at 17.6 million, one of the highest rates of the year, but down from September’s torrid 18.58 million pace and just below October 2016’s 17.85 million rate. A SAAR of 17.5 million or higher would be well above the industry’s sales pace in the first eight months of the year. GM today pegged the October SAAR at 18 million.

Company outlook

Ahead of today’s reports, analysts polled by Bloomberg expected only three major automakers to post-year-over year gains: Ford Motor Co., up 1.4 percent; Toyota Motor Corp., up 4 percent; and Volkswagen/Audi, up 10 percent.

October volume was projected to fall 1.5 percent at General Motors, 12 percent at Fiat Chrysler, 2.2 percent at Honda, 5.7 percent at Nissan Motor Co. and 10 percent at Hyundai-Kia.


Incentives averaged $3,901 per vehicle in the first 17 days of October, J.D. Power says, topping the month’s previous record set last year, by $66. Power says average transaction prices across the industry also set an October record, rising $615 from a year ago to $32,185, suggesting that rising discounts are not putting a dent in profits. For the month, ALG estimates new-vehicle incentives averaged $3,820, up 8.4 percent from October 2016 but down 1.7 percent from September. Among major automakers, GM and Nissan offered the biggest deals last month, ALG says. (See chart below.)

Odds & Ends

Automakers are struggling to move lagging 2017 inventory off dealer lots. In October, 72 percent of new vehicles sold were 2017 models, Edmunds said, while last October, 60 percent of new vehicles sold were 2016 models … There were 25 selling days last month compared with 26 in October 2016 … U.S. consumers had four weekends to shop for vehicles last month compared with five in October 2016 … Among major automakers, only Fiat Chrysler is still looking for its first monthly sales gain this year. Among major brands, Jeep and Hyundai have yet to post a monthly sales advance … Retail sales are expected to account for 82.7 percent of industry volume in October, down from 83 percent in October 2016, Kelley Blue Book says.

Notable & quotable

Kelley Blue Book estimates average transaction prices for light vehicles in the United States came in at $35,263 for October, $101 higher than October 2016 and $128 higher than September 2017.

“Transaction prices continue to rise at a slower pace than we’ve seen recently. Prices in the third quarter were up just 1 percent after averaging 3 percent gains in the first half of the year. While Kelley Blue Book expects solid sales in October 2017 with a 17.9 million SAAR, flat transaction prices combined with ever-growing incentive spending signal headwinds for the new-vehicle market as 2017 nears its end.”

    — Tim Fleming, analyst for Kelley Blue Book

October incentive outlays for U.S.

Manufacturer Oct. 2017 incentive forecast Oct. 2016 Sep. 2017 Percent change vs. Oct. 2016 Percent change vs Sept. 2017
BMW (BMW, Mini) $5,028 $6,472 $5,273 -22% -4.6%
Daimler (Mercedes-Benz, Smart) $4,882 $4,770 $5,002 2.3% -2.4%
FCA (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Fiat) $4,631 $4,185 $4,635 10.7% -0.1%
Ford (Ford, Lincoln) $4,443 $4,060 $4,473 9.4% -0.7%
GM (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC) $5,105 $4,456 $5,215 15% -2.1%
Honda (Acura, Honda) $2,023 $1,899 $1,958 6.5% 3.3%
Hyundai $2,802 $2,467 $2,843 14% -1.4%
Kia $3,915 $3,133 $3,883 25% 0.8%
Nissan (Nissan, Infiniti) $4,428 $4,236 $4,471 4.5% -1%
Subaru $1,084 $1,097 $1,077 -1.2% 0.6%
Toyota (Lexus, Scion, Toyota) $2,684 $2,429 $2,783 10.5% -3.6%
Volkswagen (Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen) $3,597 $3,855 $3,657 -6.7% -1.7%
Industry $3,820 $3,525 $3,885 8.4% -1.7%
Source: ALG

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