Automakers on Friday (March 1) reported a decline in U.S. light vehicle sales for February as demand for SUVs slows after years of rapid growth, pointing to a drop in overall sales in 2019.
Reuters reported that Toyota Motor Corp, the No.3 automaker in the United States by volume, reported a 5.2% drop in sales to 172,748 vehicles due to declines in its flagship Camry sedan as well as its Tundra pickup trucks and Sienna minivans.
Smaller rival Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said sales fell 2% to 162,036 vehicles, weighed down by lower demand for its Jeep Compass and Renegade sport utility vehicles.
"The overall industry is starting off slower due in part to weather, the U.S. government shutdown, and concern over tax refunds," Reid Bigland, Fiat Chrysler's U.S. head of sales, said in a statement.
Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at online marketplace Autotrader, said Fiat Chrysler's Compass and Renegade models are typically purchased by more budget-constrained buyers, who might be facing some cash crunch at this time of the year.
Analysts have said that rising interest rates on auto loans could crimp demand this year. Higher interest rates translate into bigger monthly car payments for consumers and could prompt some of them to postpone purchases.
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