February U.S. auto sales fell slightly, but were still strong, as automakers stepped up discounting. Fred Katayama reports.
U.S. auto sales fell slightly in February, but they were still solid, thanks to demand for pickup trucks and SUVs. General Motors sales rose and beat expectations. Its primary pickup, the Chevrolet Silverado, boasted a 17 percent jump in sales, its best showing since 2007. Ford Motor's sales also came in above forecasts, despite falling. It saw strong demand for F-Series pickup trucks and sport utilities. But Ford's car sales fell more than twenty percent from a year ago. Fiat Chrysler sales lapsed ten percent, with its Jeep SUV brand dropping 15 percent. Analysts raised the caution flags. They noted discounts hit ten percent of the average selling price for February. Michelle Krebs of Autotrader: (SOUNDBITE) MICHELLE KREBS, SENIOR ANALYST, AUTOTRADER, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "What is happening in the market is that it's taking more money and more effort to move the metal than it did a year ago. We saw that progressively increase throughout last year, and it looks like that will be the story if 2017 as well." Research firm J.D. Power notes February marked the first time discounts topped ten percent since the industry's worst year in 2009.