Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) announced Wednesday that its first-quarter sales in the United States fell by 10% even though sales were up the first two months of the quarter.
“Strong momentum in January and February was more than offset by the negative economic impact of the coronavirus in March,” said the company.
General Motors (GM) reported a 7% drop in sales for the quarter, which it attributed to the sharp decline in March sales because of the virus outbreak.
Neither company would release the month-by-month sales figures. But Toyota (TM) reported results for both March and the quarter. Its daily sales pace plunged 32% in March, while its overall sales in the month fell 37%, hurt in addition by one fewer sales day in the month. Overall, its first-quarter sales fell 9%, similar to the declines reported at Ford and GM. So it’s possible that
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That’s only half of the auto industry’s problem: Customers aren’t buying nearly as many new cars, despite attractive offers from automakers, such as interest-free seven-year loans and six months of no payments.
“First and foremost, the shelter-in-place orders have created an environment where there are going to be very few sales going on in much of April, and into May,” said John Murphy, auto analyst at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch. “Consumer confidence has been so shell shocked, that any discretionary purchases will be delayed.”
A 50% decline in sales would be the biggest drop on record in more than 40 years of auto sales data collection. The current record plunge is the 38% decline in sales in the first quarter of 2009 — during the depths of the Great Recession, as General Motors (GM) and Chrysler prepared for bankruptcy and possible closure.
US sales have topped 17 million
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