U.S. Auto Sales: Decimated In Disastrous And Dismal December

We have been covering the global automotive recession for the better part of 18 months now and, while a lot of our focus has been on the slowdown in China, the United States now appears to be spearheading the misery.

This revelation comes as a result of what can only be described as absolutely atrocious auto sales numbers for December, which were reported in scattered fashion, hitting the terminal in the appropriate red color, on Friday throughout the day. 

Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) sales for Q4 fell 2% despite "robust" demand for the company's Ram pickup trucks. GM (GM) deliveries fell 6% in the quarter and Toyota (TM) saw sales fall 6.1% in December, handily missing estimates for a 0.8% gain.

And Toyota wasn't the only automaker that missed estimates in grand fashion: Honda was also expected to report a modest gain in sales, but posted an ugly 12% drop in sales for the quarter.

Expectations were lower for Nissan (NSANY), who was expected to post a drop of 22.1% but missed even those pessimistic expectations by posting a monster 29.5% loss for the quarter. 

Ford (F)  is expected to post results on Monday. 

IBD offered some additional detail on the numbers behind the numbers: 

  • GM deliveries declined 6.3% to 735,909 units in Q4, with fleet sales accounting for 19.7% of the total. For all of 2019, GM deliveries fell 2.3% to 2,887,046 units. North American wholesale sales fell roughly 25% year over year in the quarter. GM cited the 40-day autoworkers' strike over labor contracts that brought factories to a halt. GM's newly launched heavy-duty full-size pickups saw sales fall 17% in Q4.

  • Fiat Chrysler reported record Q4 sales for the Ram truck brand, Jeep Wrangler SUV and Dodge Charger passenger car. The Ram brand also posted record full-year sales, amid the launch of the redesigned Ram Heavy Duty pickup truck.

  • For all of 2019, Honda's sales rose 0.2% to 1,608,170 vehicles. Honda saw declines of 11.3% in December for cars; 2.3% for trucks; 12.9% for the Honda division; and 3.8% for the luxury Acura division. Sales of electric and hybrid vehicles fell 31.4% for December but rose 17.2% for the full year.

  • Nissan auto sales crumbled 29.5% to 104,781 vehicles in December. For all of 2019, Nissan's sales declined 9.9% to 1,345,681 vehicles. In December, Nissan saw sales plunge 23.4% for cars; 32.9% for trucks; 28.4% in the Nissan division; and 37.8% in the luxury Infiniti division.

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