Auto sales slip in May; analyst says fall will bring better deals
DETROIT — US auto sales cooled off in May as dealers started running short on some popular, fuel-efficient models, and buyers were turned off by sharply lower incentives.
Deals are not likely to come back until the end of this summer. Some specialists are advising people to delay their purchases, if they can.
“If you don’t have to buy, wait until fall. If you lease a car, extend it,’’ said Edmunds.com’s chief, Jeremy Anwyl.
Consumers heard that message in May. US auto sales were expected to be around 1 million cars and trucks, down 8 percent from April and 4 percent from May 2010.
General Motors Corp.’s sales dropped 1.2 percent, as falling pickup truck sales offset strong sales of more fuel-efficient cars and crossovers. It was the same story at
Once again, sales of small, compact, and mid-size cars were up, and truck sales were down because of high gas prices.
Despite a raft of bad economic data in the past few days, automakers generally said they were optimistic for the year, with Ford and GM sticking with annual forecasts of around 13 million in US sales — far short of the 2000 peak of 17.3 million, but better than the 10.4 million in 2009.
Automakers usually use the warmer months to cut deals and clear out old inventory to make way for new models in the fall. But this year, they do not have many of last year’s models sitting around. Japanese automakers had to cut production after the earthquake, and domestic ones cannot produce cars any faster.
Automakers are also raising prices to make up for higher prices on steel and other commodities.