Domestic car and light-truck sales fell 5.8% in May, marking the second consecutive month of softer demand, as Ford Motor Co. on Wednesday reported a 3% sales decline for the month.
The Ford year-over-year results--comparatively better than those of Chrysler Corp. and General Motors Corp.--mirrored the industry trend of relatively strong truck sales offset by chronic weakness in passenger car sales.
“May is a clear signal that we’re reaching a saturation point in demand,” said John Casesa, an auto analyst with Schroder Wertheim & Co. “Incentives continue to go up, and sales are not going up.”
Overall, industry sales fell 5.8% to 1.4 million units in May, which was good enough for a seasonally adjusted annual sales rate of about 14.8 million units, significantly below the 15.4-million rate a year earlier and the robust first-quarter rate of 15.6 million.
Despite the booming economy and low unemployment and inflation, there are fewer consumers who have not bought a new car or truck in recent years.
Lower used car prices--a result of leases that have put more high-quality used cars and trucks on dealer lots--have drawn buyers away from new cars. Second-quarter sales are suffering because heavy promotions pulled some sales into the first quarter.