Car Sales Dim Overall in April, but Luxury Vehicles Shine | Edmunds

Car Sales Dim Overall in April, but Luxury Vehicles Shine

New-car sales continued their slowing pace in April, with a 4.8 percent year-over-year decline that represents the largest drop in 2017, according to Edmunds' monthly sales analysis. The top seven automakers saw all year-over-year sales decrease. Fiat Chrysler, Ford and Honda were down about 7 percent, while Nissan and Hyundai/Kia fared better, down about 2 percent. Overall, sales in every month of 2017 have been lower than in those months in 2016. However, many in the car business had seen this slowdown coming.

"The industry has been holding its breath to see if the days of peak sales are over, and we're starting to see the slowdown in 2017 we've been anticipating," said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds executive director of industry analysis. "Year-over-year declines in monthly sales may become more typical as the year progresses, but there's no reason to be in panic mode. Historically, car sales are still strong."

One sign of that strength can be found in luxury vehicles, which have been selling at record levels through the first four months of 2017. That segment saw sales of 629,000 SUVs for the period, up by 9,000 vehicles over 2016 and up 155,000 from the same period five years ago. Entry-level luxury SUVs have become a major part of the sales boost, mirroring the shift toward SUVs and away from sedans. Brands such as Alfa Romeo, Genesis and Tesla have also contributed to the record sales of luxury vehicles.

While luxury vehicles enjoy strong sales, overall levels of new-car inventory continue to build on dealership lots and they're not selling fast enough. In April, 8 percent of vehicles sold were from the last model year, compared to 3 percent five years ago. Carmakers are expected to cut production to curtail the growing supply of cars and trucks. With that in mind, car shoppers might want to time their upcoming car purchases accordingly and buy before the inventory cutbacks begin.

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