Ford shares gain on upbeat December sales

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Despite posting weaker sales in December, automakers sold a record 2.038 million new vehicles in Canada in 2017 as more drivers opted to purchase SUVs and trucks over passenger cars.

General Motors, Toyota and Ford all reported a 1 percent declines in sales past year compared to 2016.

Fiat Chrysler's sales fell 8%.

Ford Motors published sales figures Wednesday showing it achieved total vehicle sales of 242,049 in December, a 0.9% increase from the same month a year earlier.

Sales of the Ford F-Series pickups rose 2.1% year over year in December to 89,385 units, and F-Series transaction prices rose $3,400 year over year to $47,800. Fiat Chrysler sales fell 11 percent while General Motors dropped 3.3 percent.

Charlie Chesbrough, chief economist at Cox Automotive, owner of the Autotrader online vehicle market and Kelley Blue Book auto appraisal service, stated the group expects 2018 sales to hit 16.7 million units and increasing rate of interest are one of the industry's obstacles this year as they increase month-to-month vehicle payments. They also say consumers turned to used cars.

Despite the decline, the industry remains robust. While that included a 15.2% decline in auto sales from 2016, it also included a record year for sales of SUVS at the U.S. carmaker.

"It's still a buoyant industry and the underlying factors that drive it are still very positive", Ford's US sales chief, Mark LaNeve, said.

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Toyota saw USA sales drop 0.6% to 2.4 million, but the company highlighted strength in its popular Camry sedan, the RAV4 crossover and SUVs.

Despite the usual year-end push to get vehicles out the door, most automakers endured tough sledding in December.

(F) said that U.S. Sales for the month of December 2017 rose 0.9% to 242,049 vehicles from 239,854 vehicles in the same month past year.

Sales at Toyota's Lexus brand fell 13.9 percent.

At GM, Cadillac declined 28.6 percent and Chevrolet was down 2.9 percent.

"We finished 2017 on a high note, reflecting the continued strength of our product portfolio and establishing Toyota as the number one retail brand for the sixth year in a row", said Jack Hollis, group vice president and general manager, Toyota division. The company's Acura luxury division fell 12.2% in December and 4.2% for the full year. "This year, many consumers will see their take-home pay rise because of tax reform".

But GM said it expected the industry to sell less than 17 million new vehicles in 2018.

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