By Mark Boada, Senior Editor
When auto sales slip, car-makers roll out the incentives. And so it has been this year, and may well be for the foreseeable future, at least for some fleets and for some models.
Following the recovery from the recession that saw U.S. car and light truck sales bottom out in 2009 at 10.4 million, sales set a new all-time record in 2016 with 17.55 million units purchased or sold. But sales slumped badly through the first seven months of this year, with Detroit’s big three notching declines in July of 15% at GM, 7.4% at Ford and 10% at Fiat Chrysler. Boosted by post-hurricane replacement buys, Detroit had a great September, moving cars at an annualized rate of more than 18 million. But in October, sales edged downward again, are projected to fall further in November and are on pace to fall by around three percent to around a flat 17 million.
The trend has some industry analysts saying we may be witnessing a longer-term decline in auto sales. “There’s a pretty general consensus that [the] recent phase of elevated auto sales is coming to an end,” Tony Dutzik, a senior policy analyst at Frontier Group was quoted as saying. “Really, the question is whether it’s going to be a hiss or a pop.”