U.S. sales of new vehicles in March at major automakers came in below market expectations, sending shares of General Motors and Ford Motor down. Fred Katayama reports.
U.S. sales of new vehicles in March came in below expectations, sending shares of General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler down. GM - the biggest U.S. automaker - reported a disappointing two percent gain, at just over 256,000 vehicles. But its Tahoe and Suburban SUV models marked their best month since 2008. Ford's sales fell more than seven percent to 236,000 vehicles. The company has been struggling with its Ford Fusion and Ford Focus models. But its F Series sold well. Fiat Chrysler's sales fell five percent to 190,000 vehicles. Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at Autotrader, says vehicle sales are plateauing after hitting a record of 17.55 million last year. (SOUNDBITE) MICHELLE KREBS, SENIOR ANALYST, AUTOTRADER, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We think March was a respectable month. It wasn't as strong as we expected, but it is keeping with where we think the year should be. And it will be a good year, maybe not a record year, but there will be more inventories raising, incentives raising, so it will take more effort, more incentives to sell vehicles this year." Sales also declined at Toyota and Honda. But Nissan saw an increase, with sales of its trucks, SUVs and crossovers hitting record highs. Overall, trucks and SUVs increased sales at the expense of cars. American consumers are opting for bigger vehicles amid low gasoline prices.