Tags: gas | car | sales | three dollars | suv | truck | prices

US SUV, Truck Sales Aren't Slowed by $3 Gasoline Prices

US SUV, Truck Sales Aren't Slowed by $3 Gasoline Prices
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Friday, 01 June 2018 01:35 PM

American consumers are shrugging at the sight of pump prices nearing $3 a gallon for the first time in years and plowing ahead with purchases of big pickups and SUVs.

Ford Motor Co. eked out a surprise gain in May U.S. sales last month, buoyed by the best May for its cash-cow F-Series truck line in 18 years.

A 29 percent surge for the Jeep sport utility vehicle brand carried Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV to a bigger-than-expected gain. And Japan’s three biggest carmakers also beat analysts’ estimates on strong demand for Nissan Rogue, Honda CR-V and Toyota Highlander crossovers.

With the U.S. unemployment rate matching the lowest in 48 years and consumer confidence on the rise, gasoline will have to get more expensive to have any meaningful impact in buying patterns. The light truck segment -- which includes pickups, SUVs and crossovers -- has been seizing record share of the U.S. auto market, prompting Ford and Fiat Chrysler to pull the plug on many of their passenger cars.

“The movement into SUVs and out of cars is accelerating,” Mark LaNeve, Ford’s U.S. sales chief, said on a conference call Thursday. “If fuel prices become a concern for the customer, instead of moving into a sedan, they move into a smaller SUV or a newer one with better fuel economy.”

With five of the biggest automakers in the U.S. having beaten estimates, the annualized pace of vehicle sales probably exceeded analysts’ average projection of 16.7 million cars and light trucks. The rate has topped 17 million every month this year, according to researcher Autodata Corp. General Motors Co., the biggest U.S. automaker, stopped reporting monthly results after March.

So far, Nissan has seen no impact from rising fuel prices, said Billy Hayes, the division vice president for the brand in the U.S. Nissan’s sales of SUVs remain strong and consumers haven’t been shifting to smaller vehicles, he said in a phone interview.

“The market doesn’t seem to be responding to fuel prices at all,” Hayes said. “We’re not hearing about any reaction from consumers. Is the magic number $4 a gallon, or $5, or $6? I don’t know. We’re well positioned to absorb anything that hits.”

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American consumers are shrugging at the sight of pump prices nearing $3 a gallon for the first time in years and plowing ahead with purchases of big pickups and SUVs.
gas, car, sales, three dollars, suv, truck, prices
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2018-35-01
Friday, 01 June 2018 01:35 PM
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