Sales to rental fleets usually generate thin profit margins.
General Motors Co (GM) reported a 15.4% decrease in July sales Tuesday morning with its performance weaker than analysts' expectation of a 10.8% decline.
After seven years of US auto sales growth, this year's persistent slump - and anxiety over upheavals from electrification, autonomy and mobility services - has investors shunning automakers as benchmark stock indexes graze record highs. Sales of those profitable workhorses slipped only 0.8 percent compared with double-digit declines for compact and mid-sized cars, according to estimates from Kelley Blue Book. New vehicle sales hit a record 17.55 million past year.
The U.S. annualized sales pace for cars and light trucks during July fell to just over 16.72 million vehicles compared to 17.8 million for the same period one year ago, showed data released by Autodata, Corp., which tracks sales in the industry.
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GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler have said second-half financial results likely will be lower than first-half results, in part reflecting production cuts in North America and pricing pressures.
Mark LaNeve, Ford Motor Co.'s USA sales chief, said automakers have been preparing for lower sales this year.
"We're still operating at a very high level", LaNeve said. The Dearborn, Mich. -based automaker's fleet sales dropped by 26.4 percent to 40,720 units partly because of a Transit recall delivery hold. Car-shopping site Edmunds.com said the average price paid for a new vehicle in July was $34,558, 2% higher than the same month a year ago.
The Explorer SUV, which is made at Ford's Chicago Assembly Plant just across the state line in Hegewisch, saw retail sales rise by 20.4 percent last month, with a third of the gains coming from the premium Limited, Sport and Platinum models. "A strong real estate market, especially with regard to new home construction, in conjunction with low fuel prices, generous incentives and improved product offerings will help to keep truck sales strong".