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US auto sales drop by a third in Q2 over coronavirus impact

U.S. auto sales declined 33.3% in the second quarter of 2020 from a year earlier due to the coronavirus pandemic that forced consumers to stay at home.

An S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis found that overall nonseasonally adjusted U.S. vehicle sales for the period totaled 2.95 million units, down from the 2019 figure of 4.42 million units.

Passenger car sales declined 46.9% during the period to about 685,168 units from 1.29 million vehicles in the second quarter of 2019. Sales of trucks, minivans and SUVs for the quarter dropped 27.7% to 2.26 million units, compared to 3.13 million in the year-ago period.

While major U.S. automakers reported year-over-year declines in sales, they said sales showed signs of recovery in the latter half of the quarter.

Detroit-based General Motors Co. sold 492,489 units, down 34% year on year from 746,659 units in the second quarter of 2019. All of the automaker's brands posted year-on-year drops, including Cadillac, which declined 41.4%.

GM said demand outpaced supply in the latter half of the second quarter and retail sales recovered significantly in May and June after a decline in April.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV posted a 38.6% decline in total sales for the period to 367,086 vehicles. All of the company's brands were down compared with a year earlier, with the biggest drop from Dodge at 63%.

Fiat Chrysler said a stronger-than-expected sales rebound in May and June partially offset the "economic havoc" the pandemic caused. "Retail sales have been rebounding since April as the reopening of the economy, steady gas prices and access to low-interest loans spur people to buy," Jeff Kommor, head of U.S. sales at Fiat Chrysler, said in a statement.

U.S. sales at Ford Motor Co. decreased 33.3% from the year-ago period to 433,869 units in the quarter. All Ford and Lincoln models posted year-over-year decreases in sales except for the Ford Ranger pickup truck and the Ford Explorer SUV.

During the second quarter, Ford's F-Series outsold all the other vehicle brands sold in the U.S., even as its sales fell 22.7% year on year to 180,825 units. GM's Chevrolet Silverado took second place with 122,432, down 14.1% from a year earlier.

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