U.S. sales of new cars and trucks tailed off in February as automakers eased up on discounts.
Sales fell 2% from last February to 1.3 million, according to Autodata Corp. Among major automakers, only Toyota, Subaru and Volkswagen reported year-over-year sales gains.
Ford’s U.S. sales chief Mark LaNeve said automakers spent an average of $65 less per vehicle on incentives in February than they did the same month last year.
LaNeve said discounts could grow during the spring and summer, when tax returns arrive and more people shop for vehicles. But based on the first two months of this year, he expects automakers to remain fairly disciplined. In the past, heavy discounting has led to overproduction and steep declines in automakers’ profits.
Here are some details regarding February sales:
• General Motors Co. sales fell nearly 7% to 220,905 vehicles. Sales were dragged down by the Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, GM’s top-selling vehicle. Silverado sales were off more than 16% from a year earlier, when the company had record February sales of SUVs and pickup trucks. GMC and Chevrolet sales were down for the month. Buick and Cadillac sales rose.
• Ford Motor Co. sales fell 7% to 194,132. Ford said its car and SUV sales were down, but sales of the F-Series pickup — its biggest seller — climbed 3.5%. Ford brand sales were down 6%, and luxury Lincoln sales plummeted 23%.
• Toyota Motor Corp. sales rose 4.5% to 182,195. Sales of its top seller, the Camry sedan, jumped 12% as an updated version went on sale. Sales of the luxury Lexus brand rose 5%.
• Fiat Chrysler’s sales fell 1% to 165,903. Jeep brand sales jumped 12% and Alfa Romeo sales were also up, but Ram truck sales fell 14% because of a drop in fleet buyers. Chrysler, Dodge and Fiat sales fell on low consumer demand for cars.
• Nissan Motor Co. sales fell 4% to 129,930. Demand for Nissan cars fell 17%, but truck and SUV sales were up 9%, led by the Rogue small SUV. Sales of Nissan’s luxury Infiniti brand fell 7%.
• Honda Motor Co. sales fell 5% to 115,557. Sales of its bestseller, the CR-V SUV, dropped 19%, despite a recent redesign. Luxury Acura sales were up 1%.
• Hyundai Motor Co. sales fell 13% to 46,095 as higher sales of SUVs failed to make up for declining car sales. Genesis luxury sales slid 14%.
• Subaru brand sales rose 4% to 47,209. Sales of its newly redesigned Crosstrek SUV jumped 61%.
• Volkswagen brand sales rose 6% to 26,660. Volkswagen is introducing more SUVs as consumers shift away from cars; sales of its Touareg midsize SUV were up 14%.