Ford posted strong sales in December, and its Explorer post its best results since 2005. But most other automakers saw declines.
Toyota Canada recorded its best sales year ever in 2017, bolstered by record hybrid, truck and Lexus vehicle sales.
For perspective, Ford sold more than twice as many large pickups as the total of all Ford passenger cars sold in the month, 44,871. VW wasn't alone in enjoying strong SUV sales last month.
"The numbers point to further decline", said Fleming, who is projecting vehicle sales to fall to 16.7 million this year.
Truck sales comprised 45.8% of all Ford-brand sales in December, and the F-Series pickups accounted for almost 37% of total monthly sales.
Ford's overall sales increased by 0.9% in December, but the automaker, which is more and more dependent than ever on the success of its trucks and sport-utes, saw full-year sales drop 1.1% led by a 14.2% decline in vehicle sales.
GM's annual sales fell 1.3 percent to 3 million, but the biggest USA automaker said continued strength in larger crossover vehicles and trucks had helped it lift the average retail price for all vehicles to $35,400 in the final month of the year, a record. The company also reduced year-end inventories more than its target. Dealer stock totaled 56 days of supply, down from 62 days in November and from 61 a year ago. A 60-day supply is considered ideal by industry standards. For the year, Cadillac sales dropped by 8%. The average age of vehicles on the road has climbed to 11.6 years, up from 8.8 years in 1998. "So, it's going to be the year of the truck".
Sales of the Lincoln brand slipped by 17% year over year in December as sales of Lincoln cars tumbled 25.5%. With one less selling day in December 2017 compared to December 2016, sales were down 4.8% on a daily selling rate (DSR) basis.
Toyota division posted a December drop of 7.2% on a volume basis and 3.6% on a DSR basis.
Toyota saw United States sales drop 0.6% to 2.4 million, but the company highlighted strength in its popular Camry sedan, the RAV4 crossover and SUVs.
"We are well positioned to continue our retail leadership in 2018, driven by a growing economy, consumer confidence and segment-leading products like RAV4 and Camry", he added. SUV sales fell 12% year over year in December. The American automaker finished the year with 308,474 units sold, an increase of 1.3 per cent from 2016.
Sales of the Ford F-Series pickups rose 2.1% year over year in December to 89,385 units, and F-Series transaction prices rose $3,400 year over year to $47,800.
For the second consecutive month, the Rogue crossover was Nissan's top-selling model with 403,465 sales, an increase of 22%. Volkswagen's dropped 19 percent.
Despite the decline, analysts note that sales above 17 million are still very strong.
Auto sales for the month declined 5.5% year-over-year to 48,380 units from 51,205 units, truck sales also decreased 1.0% to 110,788 units, while SUVs sales rose 8.0% to 82,881 units as compared to a year earlier. Several automakers also experienced minor decreases in their sales despite the overall industry seeing a sales increase. Toyota Prius hybrid sales plummeted 20.5 percent. Nissan's 2017 sales also came in at 1.6 million, a 1.9 percent increase from the prior year. Auto sales totaled 3,509 units in the month and utility vehicle sales totaled 7,110 units. "This year, many consumers will see their take-home pay rise because of tax reform".
- PILING ON THE DEALS: New vehicle prices hit a record previous year, averaging $36,113 as buyers bought bigger SUVs and added more safety and infotainment features, Kelley Blue Book said.