March 1, 2018

February 2018 Auto Sales: Down 2.4 Pct. From Feb. 2017; Cars Down 13 Pct., Trucks Up 4 Pct. (But Because of Imports)

Filed under: Economy — Tom @ 6:12 pm

The big news in February’s auto sales is that Detroit’s traditional Big 3 performed very poorly compared to 12 months earlier:

  • GM, down 7.0 percent, with lower sales of cars (-15.6 percent) and trucks (-4.3 percent)
  • Ford, down 6.8 percent, with lower sales of cars (-12.1) and trucks (-5.1)
  • Chrysler, down 7.0 percent, with lower sales of cars (-15.6 percent) and trucks (+0.9 percent)

Chrysler is basically out of the car business (18,412 for the entire month). You might think that’s because parent company Fiat is making up for that with its flagship brand. Nope: Fiat only sold 1,241 cars in February (that’s not a typo).

Meanwhile, Toyota was up 4.5 percent, with a 10.5 percent increase in trucks far more than offsetting a 3.1 percent decline in cars.

Overall, it wasn’t a good month for those rooting for domestically made vehicles (left is Feb. 2018, center is Feb. 2017, right is year-over-year percentage change):


Although overall sales revenue was probably about the same (the revenue gained from 32,000 more trucks probably exceeds what was lost from 64,000 fewer cars), imports, especially trucks, the only subcategory which went up (and by a lot), bears watching in future months to see if this is a blip or a disturbing trend.



  1. I wonder what the impact of Trump’s 25% tariff on steel and 10% on aluminum will be on foreign vehicles?

    Comment by dscott — March 2, 2018 @ 4:41 pm

  2. Well uhm, the effect of steel tariffs will be felt on Domestically made vehicles:

    Wilbur Ross: Trump’s Steel Tariffs Should Only Cost You A Few Hundred Extra Dollars On A New Car

    Comment by dscott — March 2, 2018 @ 5:10 pm

  3. Good point.

    I don’t think tariffs are the answer.

    The answer is some form of equalization which recognizes how much it REALLY costs to manufacture the AND SHIP the products involved. If there’s no way anyone, even China, can produce and transport a product for less than $X, they shouldn’t be allowed to sell it here for under that amount (perhaps plus a small imputed profit). If they try, impose a tariff that makes up the difference. The need for a tariff will quickly disappear, and the playing field will be as level as it *should* be.

    If the Chinese really can produce it AND get it here for less (without using slave labor), they should be able to sell it here for that cost plus a reasonable profit.

    Because of fixed and variable costs, the devil is in the details. But at a minimum, it stops China from shipping things here which cost LESS than what it costs just to ship it here.

    In an ideal world, the U.S. would refuse to do business with any Chinese entity controlled by the People’s Army. Sadly, that’s not realistic today. It should have been established as a non-negotiable condition of opening up trade 30 years ago, and would have forced China to develop independent industries or face ongoing, widespread poverty.

    Comment by Tom — March 3, 2018 @ 11:32 am

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