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New car sales for July 2018: Winners and Losers

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Paced by declines at Ford, Nissan, Honda, Toyota, General Motors and Hyundai-Kia, U.S. light-vehicle sales fell an estimated 3.7 percent in July as the auto industry lost some speed going into the second half of a year projected to be weaker than the robust first six months.

The seasonally adjusted, annualized rate of sales for July fell to 16.73 million, in line with the 16.7 million rate forecast by analysts polled by Bloomberg. It is the weakest SAAR reading since August 2017’s revised 16.58 million rate, when Hurricane Harvey disrupted sales.

U.S. light-vehicle sales have now climbed 1.1 percent this year through July. Overall, light truck demand rose 4.3 percent while car deliveries skidded 18 percent last month.

Among major companies, only Fiat Chrysler, the Volkswagen Group and posted gains, while Subaru of America extended its winning streak to 80 months.

The industry’s final sales tally for July is estimated because GM, the largest seller, now reports U.S. figures on a quarterly basis instead of monthly. GM’s U.S. sales fell 3 percent in July, Automotive News estimates.

At Ford Motor Co., strong sales of F-Series pickups couldn’t overcome flagging sales of passenger cars. Toyota Motor Corp. chalked up its biggest drop of 2018 with a 6 percent drop. Nissan Motor Co. deliveries declined for the fifth month this year as it continued to pull back from profit-eroding tactics to push sales. Kia outsold the Hyundai brand as both brands declined.

The tallies were in line with analysts’ forecasts of a soft July. Sales through June had been surprisingly strong – up 1.9 percent. But with most estimates pointing to total U.S. sales finishing below 17 million after a historic three-year run above that mark, something was due to give.

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