U.S. sales of new cars and trucks showed declines in July as consumers pulled back on purchases and hoped for Labor Day deals.
July was likely the seventh straight month of lower sales in a peaking market. Analysts have been predicting lower U.S. sales this year after an unprecedented seven straight years of growth. U.S. new vehicle sales hit a record 17.55 million last year. July's pace would put annual sales at around 17 million, Ford's U.S. sales chief Mark LaNeve said.
General Motors said its sales fell 15 percent in July, while Ford's sales were down 7.5 percent. Fiat Chrysler's sales were down 10 percent. Nissan's sales fell 3 percent. Toyota bucked the trend with a gain of 3.6 percent.
Automakers are still seeing healthy profits thanks to consumers' preference for SUVs. Car shopping site Edmunds.com said the average price paid for a new vehicle in July was $34,558, 2 percent higher than the same month a year ago.
GM said sales of its recently updated GMC Acadia SUV jumped 30 percent, while Toyota said sales of its RAV4 SUV rose 36 percent to 41,804, a monthly record.
Automakers ramped up deals in July, a trend that's expected to continue for the rest of the summer as carmakers try to make way for 2018 models on their lots. Average interest rates on new-vehicle loans fell to a six-month low of 4.77 percent in July as more brands offered zero-percent financing deals, Edmunds said. Toyota, for example, was offering zero-percent financing for 72 months on a 2017 Toyota Camry sedan.
Kelley Blue Book said those deals could help sales jump back in August and September, when consumers are accustomed to seeing model year closeout offers and Labor Day sales.