Just like in 2014, this February proved treacherous for both the automakers and the bullish analyst’ expectations, mainly because of the troublesome winter weather.
While six of the top seven automakers that operate on the US market did post positive results last month, all the figures were below predictions. “Mother Nature was just not nice to us,” commented Fred Diaz, the US boss of the Nissan brand. The executive believes the lost sales would be recuperated once spring comes to life and allows consumers to return to dealer showrooms. According to figures published by research firm Autodata, the total new car and light truck sales in February grew 5.3 percent to 1,257,619 units – while analysts polled by Reuters gave an average 7.1 percent increase.
Numerous economists during February were bullish in their predictions, with most of them expecting the seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate (SAAR) to finish the month with aggregated deliveries of 16.7 million vehicles – but the reality was way harsher, the figure at the end of the month being of 16.23 million autos. The vast majority of carmakers put the slower pace on the back of the ferocious weather conditions in the US Northeast and Midwest, while others also pointed out to an unexpected jump in fuel prices towards the end of the month – most likely caused by disruptions in the distribution chain due to the extreme weather. “There was definitely a slowdown” in sales after the second part of the month, said Mark LaNeve, Ford Motor Co’s US sales vice president. John Krafcik, president of research firm TrueCar, believed the harsh weather mostly affected the already troubled passenger car segment, rather than taking a toll on trucks and SUVs.