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Toyota's Lexus brand saw a 6.2% drop in sales over the previous October.

GM, Toyota, FCA Sales Decline in October as Boom Slows

Nov. 1, 2016
Some carmakers have reportedly cut back production amid signs of softening in demand, after years of gains and a record 2015. 

CHICAGO—U.S. auto sales fell in October, in a fresh sign of slowing in the industry as American automakers struggle to maintain recent high levels of demand. 

GM, the biggest U.S. automaker, reported Tuesday that sales dropped 1.7% compared to October 2015, with 258,626 vehicles sold. 

FCA US, the American arm of Fiat-Chrysler, reported a 10% decline. Toyota said its sales were down 8.7% in the month.

Ford, the second largest automaker, delayed its sales report until later in the week, due to a fire at its headquarters which disrupted power at its main data centers. 

Analysts had expected U.S. car sales to decline in October, because of fewer selling days compared to last year, weather disruptions from Hurricane Matthew in the southeast and fewer incentives offered to buyers.

GM said retail sales were a bright spot, with sales to individual buyers, rather than corporate or rental fleet sales, up 2.5% in October compared to last year. 

The company said the average transaction price for its key GMC brand of pickup trucks and SUVs climbed by more than $1,800 over the year-ago period, even though unit sales dropped 4.7%.

"We gained profitable retail share in October while spending less than the industry average on incentives and commanding the industry's best average transaction prices for any full-line automaker," Kurt McNeil, GM's vice president of US sales operations, said in a statement.

Toyota said its luxury Lexus brand had seen sales drop 6.2% in October to 24,803 units.

Some carmakers have reportedly cut back production amid signs of softening in demand, after years of gains and a record 2015. 

"Planned reductions by FCA and Ford indicate a more disciplined approach to sales strategies going forward that will support a healthy automotive market," Eric Lyman, TrueCar's chief industry analyst, said in a statement.  

There are hopeful signs still for a strong end to the year, when dealers offer promotions on older models. JD Power and LMC Automotive predicted a 0.8% slide year-over-year in sales, still close to  all-time highs.  

"We do not foresee a large pullback in sales in the near term, but the fact that retail sales are beginning to contract, despite high incentives and extremely low interest rates and gas prices, is a clear indicator that this cycle has reached its peak," said JD Power senior automotive analyst John Humphrey in a statement.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2016.

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