US February auto sales rise significantly

February auto sales in the United States rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in February of 17.43 million according to WardsAuto. Autodata put the rate at 17.54 million.

2016 started off in January with sales growing at the fastest pace since 2000. February continues the trend upward — most companies beat expectations with Ford among the the leaders. Of the other big three, GM posted an unexpected decline while Fiat Chrysler did very well. Ford sales grew by a humongous 20.2 percent compared to last year while expected growth was 12.6 percent. GM sales declined by 1.5 percent while sales were expected to grow by 5.1 percent. Fiat Chrysler sales grew by 11.8 percent while expectations were for a growth rate of just 9.2 percent.
Volkswagen sales were still hurting as a result of their diesel emissions scandal. Sales slumped by 13 percent. However, the Tiguan soared in sales by 78 percent. Luxury German maker BMW sales also declined by 12.4 percent. However, Porsche was one bright spot among German auto manufacturers with a sales jump of 11.2 percent.
Among Japanese auto makers Nissan had a sales jump of 10.5 percent much more than the 7.2 percent expected. Toyota had a gain of just 4.1 percent less than the 4.9 percent expected. Honda had a large jump of 12.8 percent compared to expectations of 8.8 percent.
Among Korean auto makers Hyundai had a marginal 1 percent gain in sales while Mazda had a large drop of 16 percent. Kia was the big winner with a sales jump of 13 percent.
Ford's impressive growth was fueled by strong demand for SUV and crossover vehicles whose sales increased by 28 per from last February. However, the popular F-Series pickup trucks also sold well, 10 percent better than a year ago. Cars also did quite well jumping by 19 percent from last year. Fiat Chrysler's sales were bolstered by strong demand for the Jeep SUV and for the Ram truck line.
Several factors may have influenced the increase in sales. Michelle Krebs, an analyst with Autotrader said: "In addition to positive economic factors, February car sales got a boost from the Super Bowl, (the) Presidents Day (holiday) and beefed up dealer advertising." Analysts expect that eventually sales will hit a plateau and taper off, but since the 2008-9 recession sales have been increasing. On the east coast of the US, a January blizzard may have resulted in purchases being delayed until February. Low fuel prices, easy credit, and a high employment level may also help increase demand for new cars. The low fuel prices may be leading to more sales of expensive trucks and SUVs. Edmunds.com reports that light trucks and SUV's outsold cars for thirty months in a row and amount to 60 percent of sales overall in February.


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