Ford Motor Co., the No. 2 U.S. auto maker in terms of sales, said April sales declined 7.1% on fewer selling days, continued declines in demand for passenger cars and unexpected weakness in truck sales.
Overall sales results for the industry will be reported Tuesday and are expected to be relatively flat in April, which had one less selling day compared with the same month in 2016.
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J.D. Power estimates retail sales, which strip out deliveries to fleet buyers, will decrease on an unadjusted basis, offset by somewhat stronger sales to fleets, including rental car companies.
The research firm said auto makers continue relying on generous discounts to maintain demand. Still, inventory levels are rising as production lines keep churning out vehicles at a strong pace -- dealers now need 70 days to turn a vehicle, J.D. Power said, the highest level since 2009.
"With flat retail demand and inventory at record levels, manufacturers will continue to face a difficult choice between maintaining elevated incentives or making production cuts," said Deirdre Borrego, general manager of J.D. Power's automotive data and analytics.
WardsAuto.com expects April's inventory level will represent the fourth straight month above the 4 million mark, which hasn't happened since 2004.
Analysts expect between 1.43 million and 1.48 million vehicles sold in April. Forecasts call for a seasonally-adjusted annual rate in the range of 17 million to 17.5 million vehicles, compared with the 17.5-million SAAR in April 2016.
Write to Adrienne Roberts at Adrienne.Roberts@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 02, 2017 10:00 ET (14:00 GMT)