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Bargains surge on small, fuel-efficient sedans, hatchbacks

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February sales of the Ford Fusion mid-size sedan deflated by 35 percent. (Image courtesy of Ford Motor Co.)

Automakers are expected to offer greater incentives on sedans and hatchbacks as sales of these models continue to slow.

Overall new-car sales fell 1.1 percent in February compared to the same month a year ago, according to Autodata Corp. But sales of passenger cars were hit particularly hard as consumers continued to flock to SUV and pickup trucks.

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Slow car demand is leading automakers to add incentives for what are fairly high inventories of unsold vehicles, reports The Detroit News.


Passenger cars accounted for 37.7 percent of sales last month, down from 42.4 percent in February 2016. Truck sales were 62.3 percent, compared to 57.6 percent a year ago.

General Motors car sales dropped 22.7 percent compared to February 2016.

Nissan car sales fell 12 percent, Toyota car sales dropped 17.2 percent, and Honda sales decreased 6.9 percent.

Ford car sales also decreased, even as the Dearborn automaker witnessed a record February for SUV sales, and an increase of 8.7 percent for F-Series pickup-truck sales.


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Sales of the Focus compact sedan and hatchback fell 31.8 percent, while sales of the Fusion mid-size sedan deflated by 35 percent.

In contrast, sales of the Escape compact crossover increased 15.9 percent, while sales of the Expedition full-size SUV shot up 48.2 percent.

This trend may be worrisome for automakers stuck with increasingly-large inventories of unsold sedans and hatchbacks, but it is good news for anyone shopping for those cars. Automakers will likely increase incentives for sedans through March, Jessica Caldwell—Edmunds executive director of industry analysis—told The Detroit News.

While cars appear to be hardest hit, industry sales activity is slowing overall.


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Edmunds says the number of days a vehicle sits on a dealer lot before sale—known as "days to turn"—was 74 days in February, the highest for any month since July 2009.

But while automakers may have to work a little harder to sell their SUVs and pickup trucks, it appears they will have to work a lot harder to reinvigorate car sales.

Helped in part by low gas prices, SUVs have been eroding car sales for the past few years, and that trend shows no signs of changing.

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