• Email

GM, Toyota, FCA, Nissan and Honda posted declines in U.S. deliveries in December while Ford advanced and the sales pace remained strong despite falling short of 2016’s record.

Ford’s 1.3 percent increase marked its fourth straight monthly gain. GM fell 3.3 percent and FCA US was off as both companies pared back shipments to daily rental companies. Volume dipped 8.3 percent at Toyota Motor Corp., 9.5 percent at Nissan Motor Co. and 7 percent at American Honda, though Nissan and American Honda both set sales records for the year.

The results come in comparison to a robust December a year earlier, when the fifth-highest seasonally adjusted annual sales rate of all time was recorded.

Analysts had forecast that December would mark the 10th monthly drop of 2017 — despite being the strongest month for raw volume. Annual demand was projected to fall for the first time since 2009 while topping 17 million units for the third straight year and the fifth time in history.

GM today pegged the December seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales at 18.2 million, which would be the second-highest tally of the year.

“In 2017, we had solid GDP growth and good news on employment, wages and consumer sentiment, which helped deliver very strong retail sales for the auto industry,” Mustafa Mohatarem, GM’s chief economist, said in a statement.

He forecast that light vehicle sales this year will be in the high 16 million-unit range as income gains stemming from U.S. tax reform are offset by rising interest rates.

Ford Motor’s 1.3 percent gain came on the strength of a 2.4 percent increase at the Ford division, which was fueled by strong light truck volume. Lincoln skidded 17 percent as car sales plunged 26 percent. In December, SUV demand rose 8 percent but car deliveries slid 5.5 percent, Ford said. For the year, Ford’s U.S. deliveries dipped 0.9 percent.