Automakers regain US sales ground after worst month in decades
Automakers started down the road to recovery last month, with US industry sales rebounding from the slowest pace in decades.
The annualized rate of car and truck sales rose to 12.2 million in May from 8.6 million in April, according to Ward’s Automotive Group. The earlier reading was the lowest seasonally adjusted figure in data going back to 1976.
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Automakers said Tuesday that although retail demand is recovering, deliveries to fleet customers have plummeted. Hertz Global Holdings Inc., which filed for bankruptcy last month, has canceled car orders along with its peers Enterprise Holdings Inc. and Avis Budget Group Inc. as the coronavirus has ravaged the travel industry.
Total sales fell 26% for Toyota Motor Corp., 17% for Honda Motor Co. and 13% for Hyundai Motor Co. in May from a year earlier. While Hyundai’s retail deliveries rose 5% for the month, fleet purchases plunged 79%.
Ford Motor Co. is among the major carmakers that publicly report U.S. sales only quarterly. It has raised the prospect of seeking government stimulus similar to the “cash for clunkers" program that helped the industry bounce back from the financial crisis in 2009. Hyundai’s head of U.S. sales said Tuesday the company also supports the idea.
“We’d welcome the opportunity to work with our government to provide additional resources to help the consumers purchase cars," Randy Parker, Hyundai’s local sales chief, said by phone. “We strongly support it from our end."