New Car Sales Continuing to Fall, Analysts Say

Cox Automotive economist says it'll be the weakest February sales period since 2015.

Ford dealership
Frank Duenzl—Frank Duenzl/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

New-vehicle sales will have declined 4 percent in February from the same month in 2017, Cox Automotive analysts estimate. 

"The sales pace slowed in January, and our expectation is that February is going to be even weaker," said Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist for Cox Automotive.

The projections call for February sales of 1.275 million vehicles, translating to an estimated 16.7 million seasonally adjusted rate, according to the estimate. 

If the estimates pan out, they'll mark the weakest February sales since 2015, Chesbrough said.

"The story relative to slowing demand for cars and strong demand for utility vehicles continues to underlie results," said Stephanie Brinley, senior automotive analyst at IHS Markit. Consumers may also be delaying large purchases as they evaluate the impact on their bottom lines from tax legislation passed at the end of 2017, she added.

February's new light-vehicle sales, including fleet, are up 11 percent from January, according to the Cox analysts. Fleet sales are usually higher in February, and as a result, retail sales are expected to account for 81 percent of volume, the Cox analysts noted.