DETROIT (Reuters) - Major automakers on Tuesday posted lower U.S. new vehicle sales in April as consumer demand continued to weaken and competition intensified following a lengthy boom for the industry.
Auto sales have been on a bit of a roller coaster ride this year, with a weak performance in February followed by a jump in sales for some automakers in March.
Ford Motor Co (F.N) posted a 4.7-percent decline in sales compared to April 2017, with retail sales to consumers down 2.6 percent. The No. 2 U.S. automaker said sales of its popular pickup trucks were up 0.9 percent, but SUV and passenger car sales were down 4.6 percent and 15 percent respectively.
For years, U.S. consumers have been shifting away from traditional passenger cars in favor of larger and more comfortable pickup trucks, SUVs and crossovers.
But the number of new models vying for a share of that market is growing faster than demand, threatening the fat profits automakers have enjoyed.
“That is a very competitive part of the market ... with so many new entries,” Ford’s U.S. sales chief Mark LaNeve said of the SUV segment on a conference call with analysts and reporters.
Last year, U.S. auto sales fell 2 percent after hitting a record high of 17.55 million units in 2016. Sales are expected to fall further in 2018 as higher interest rates push up monthly car payments. Also, millions of nearly new vehicles will return to the market this year after coming off lease, providing a lower-cost