OEMs leaning on pickup, van and SUV sales as car sales drop

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OEMs in the U.S. are banking more and more on pickup, van and SUV sales as demand for new cars continues to drop.

Year-to-date sales of passenger cars are down 8.2-percent in the U.S. compared to the same period last year, according to The Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, van sales have increased 17 percent, SUVs are up 7.1 percent and pickups have risen 5.8 percent over that same period.

Low gas prices are driving the drop in car sales, the Journal reports, and leaving U.S. automakers to make changes in vehicle production to accommodate growing consumer interest in larger vehicles.

For instance, GM announced Tuesday that it’s hiring 650 workers to go to work building GMC Acadia and Cadillac XT5, two midsize crossover SUVs. That plant has been out of operation for three years.

Meanwhile, on Monday Ford stopped production of its Mustang at a factory in Detroit. The storied car will remain out of production for a week to help prevent overstock at dealerships.

However, Ford’s Transit van sales continue to soar. The automaker reported today that sales of its popular Transit line-up dominate U.S., European and Chinese van markets. In the U.S., YTD sales for Transit are up 31 percent over last year.

Last week, GM reported that GMC sales gained momentum through the month and that the brand posted its second highest monthly average transaction price (ATP) in the brand’s history at $44,144. GMC produces trucks, vans, SUVs and crossovers.

Also last week, Ford reported that its F-Series truck sales for September were the best of the year, with 67,809 trucks sold. However, that marks a 3 percent decline compared to the same time last year. Total YTD U.S. vehicle sales for Ford are down 8 percent from a year ago. Retail sales are down 4 percent while fleet sales declined 21 percent.

Ram reported that its pickup sales increased 29 percent in September compared with September 2015 sales.