Auto Sales Fall in October Despite Dealer Discounts

November 1, 2016, 2:52 PM UTC
Car Sales
AUBURN, ME - NOVEMBER 4: The Emerson Inc. car dealership is seen Wednesday, November 4, 2015 in Auburn, Maine. (Photo by Joel Page/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
Photograph by Portland Press Herald Press Herald — Getty Images

General Motors Co’s sales in October fell 1.7 percent from a year ago as its midsize sedans posted huge declines, partly offset by hefty gains for its smaller pickup trucks and large SUVs, the automaker said on Tuesday.

GM, the top seller of automobiles in the U.S. market, was the first major manufacturer to show October sales on Tuesday.

U.S. auto sales in October were expected to decline between 6 percent and 8 percent, according to industry analysts who say the fall-off from last year’s record high is not being limited by higher consumer discounts.

The rate of decline in October from a year ago will not be known until later this week because Ford Motor Co is delaying its sales report due to a fire at its Dearborn, Michigan headquarters on Monday.

GM said U.S. industry auto sales will be 17.4 million on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate.

GM’s two full-size pickup truck models, Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, collectively fell 7.6 percent.

Thirty-nine economists polled by Thomson Reuters expected sales of 17.5 million vehicles on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis. Wall Street automotive analysts polled by Reuters expected annualized sales of about 17.7 million vehicles.

Ford, the second biggest automaker in the U.S. market with a 15 percent share of sales through September, has not said when it will issue its sales report. The 60-year-old headquarters, which houses 1,500 employees, was reopened for business on Tuesday after workers were sent home on Monday.

Analysts expect Ford to show a decline of between 9 percent and 11 percent from a year ago, which some analysts said was due to better discipline on the use of discounts. Others pointed out that the company is stemming production at North American F-150 pickup truck plants and sedan plants because of weak demand.

Comparisons to last October are pressured because of two fewer selling days. But even with that factored in, sales would likely have been weaker if not for the big consumer discounts, known as incentives, analysts said.

TrueCar Inc said October incentives industrywide rose nearly 16 percent from a year earlier, or about $3,600 per new vehicle sold.

Sales at Toyota, No. 3 in the U.S. market, is expected to decline of between 2 percent and 7 percent, according to analysts polled by Reuters.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is seen falling from last October between 7.5 percent and 11 percent.