General Motors now officially expects its sales to decline for the full calendar year, but analysts suggested that concerns about sliding automaker profits could be premature.
Auto industry observers suggested for months that stagnant domestic vehicle sales early in 2017 could lead to full-year numbers that fall short of 2016's record levels, but GM maintained its projections that sales would roughly match last year's 17.55 million vehicles.
That changed this week, according to The Wall Street Journal, when GM chief financial officer Chuck Stevens told an analyst conference call that sales would be closer to 17 million.
Stevens added that vehicle pricing grew "very competitive" in the first half of 2017 as automakers sought to bolster sales.
Analysts previously noted that the slower sales coincided with high inventory levels on dealership lots. That pattern, they warned, could lead to more price incentives in an effort to clear inventory, which could erode automaker profits.
Stevens and Barclays analyst Brian Johnson, however, told the Journal that discounts are moderating instead.
“It appears the industry is becoming a bit more rational,” Stevens said on the call.
Sales totals for the first half of 2017 are set to be reported by automakers next week.