July US auto sales could fall on weaker demand

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. auto sales were expected to drop slightly in July as unusually hot weather — and softening demand — kept buyers at home. Kelley Blue Book predicted a 1 percent decline from last July to about 1.5 million new cars and trucks, while auto pricing site TrueCar.com expected sales...

 
              FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, file photo, Volkswagen cars for sale are on display on the lot of a VW dealership in Boulder, Colo. On Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016, major automakers report sales for the month of July. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. auto sales were expected to drop slightly in July as unusually hot weather — and softening demand — kept buyers at home.

Kelley Blue Book predicted a 1 percent decline from last July to about 1.5 million new cars and trucks, while auto pricing site TrueCar.com expected sales to be flat for the month.

General Motors' sales fell 2 percent while Ford's U.S. sales fell 3 percent. Nissan's sales were up 1 percent. Volkswagen's sales fell 8 percent.

Other automakers will report sales later Tuesday.

After six straight years of growth — and record sales of 17.5 million new vehicles last year— U.S. sales are beginning to plateau. In the first six months of last year, for example, sales were up 4 percent, or more than double the pace of this year. But low gas prices, low interest rates, enticing new vehicles and strong consumer confidence should keep them at a very high level.

"We're still at a healthy level as an industry," Ford's U.S. sales chief Mark LaNeve said Tuesday. "We'll adjust our plans according to the reality and temper our expectations somewhat."

Plateauing sales could be a good thing for consumers, since automakers are dialing up the discounts in order to hold on to their market share. TrueCar said industry incentives were up 5 percent over last July to an average of $3,225 per vehicle. Ford, Volkswagen, BMW and Fiat Chrysler had the biggest increases over last July, TrueCar said.

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