Top automakers in the U.S. saw a slight increase in sales during August including another strong rise in sales of SUVs, as strong consumer confidence and low unemployment helped to lessen the impact of the rise in fuel prices and interest rates.
Ford Motor Co and other top automakers released reports that follow a rise in U.S. consumer confidence to a high of almost 18 years that diminished fears over the impact of the protectionist trade policy of President Donald Trump on sentiment.
Wall Street analysts said the latest results had been on track to meet forecasts for the yearlong pace of sales of U.S. cars and light trucks of 16.8 million for the month. Last year during the same month the figure was 16.6 million.
Ford, which is the second largest U.S. automaker, said it sold 218.503 vehicles during August, which compared to 209,898 for the same month one year ago, when sales efforts for Labor Day were hurt by two hurricanes that hit the U.S. mainland.
The increase included a surge of 20% in sales of SUVs while sales of pickup trucks increased by 5.7%.
Ford’s U.S. marketing head Mark LaNeve noted that annualized U.S. seasonally adjusted sales of cars and light trucks or SAAR in August were 17.0 million to 17.4 million, which included both medium as well as heavy trucks that typically represent close to 300,000 units.
Auto sales in the U.S. fell 2% during 2017 from a 2016 record high of 17.55 million as consumers moved from traditional passenger sedans to more comfortable, larger SUVs as well as pickups, which for automakers are much more profitable.
Earlier in the year, Ford said it would be gradually ending its production of the majority of its passenger cars in the U.S. The new Ford Navigator SUV in 2017 has an average prices tag per transaction of $84,000. The company sold 1,522 of those SUVs in August, which was up from August 2017 sales of 755 for the same SUV.
Toyota Motor, which has a bigger share of less expensive passengers vehicles, announced that its sales in the U.S. fell 2% during August to 223,054. Its sales of SUVs increased during the same period by 8.9%.