USA auto sales fall as makers cut rental sales

A salesperson shows vehicles to a shopper at a Toyota dealership

This year, big cuts in sales to rental auto fleets and commercial customers were also a factor.

General Motors Co said on Tuesday it slashed July sales to rental auto fleets in the United States by 80 percent compared to a year ago to just over 2,700 vehicles, while increasing sales to commercial fleets.

Analysts have been predicting lower sales this year as demand levels out after an unprecedented seven straight years of growth.

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"Customers across the country drove retail gains of Ford brand SUVs in July", U.S. Marketing, Sales and Services Vice President Mark LaNeve said.

Deliveries plunged 15 percent for GM and 10 percent for Fiat Chrysler, both bigger decreases than analysts projected in a Bloomberg News survey. New vehicle sales hit a record 17.55 million previous year. Sales of those profitable workhorses slipped only 0.8 percent compared with double-digit declines for compact and mid-sized cars, according to estimates from Kelley Blue Book.

With vehicle inventories bloated, profit-eroding discounts might need to rise further in the second half of the year to keep the sector chugging along even at a reduced speed.

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The company, however, said Jeep sales came in at 9,842 units for July - the highest monthly total in Canada in 75 years. Fiat Chrysler ended production of many models it at one time sold to rental fleets.

Canada's economy grew by 0.6 percent in May from a month earlier, Statistics Canada said last month, exceeding economists' forecasts for 0.2 percent. Car-shopping site Edmunds.com said the average price paid for a new vehicle in July was $34,558, 2% higher than the same month a year ago.

Retail sales fell by only 1%, with Ford's share of the retail market actually increasing over the last three months inluding July.

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