Coronavirus is expected to tank U.S. auto sales in the second quarter

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Cars sit in a dealership lot on the first day that dealerships are allowed to open to the public on May 20, 2020 in Linden, New Jersey.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

Fiat Chrysler’s U.S. vehicle sales in the second quarter fell by 38.6% as the coronavirus caused consumers to stay at home, and dealerships and factories to shutter.

The hefty decline is in-line with what analysts expected for the automaker, which is among the first to report its second-quarter sales. Sales were forecast to fall by about 34% in the second quarter, including declines of 24% to 30% in June alone, according to auto research firms Edmunds and TrueCar’s ALG.

There were no bright spots for Fiat Chrysler in the second quarter as every one of its six brands reported sales declines of between 21% and 63%. For the first half of the year, sales were off 25.8% for the Italian-American automaker.

Jeff Kommor, head of U.S. sales for Fiat Chrysler, said retail sales to consumers have been rebounding since bottoming in April, however fleet sales to governments and businesses have been canceled or delayed.

“This quarter demonstrated the resilience of the U.S. consumer,” Kommor said in a release. “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.” He said the company has built “a strong fleet order book” that will assist its sales in the second half of the year.

Most major automakers are expected to report June or second-quarter sales on Wednesday, providing another look at how the coronavirus crippled the auto industry during the first half of the year.

Automakers across the U.S. have ended vehicle production and other countries due to the pandemic. They’ve also cut or deferred executive and white-collar salaries and withdrawn guidance for the year.

Other automakers reporting June or first-quarter sales include:

  • Hyundai Motor’s sales in the first quarter fell about 23.7% to 141,722 units compared to a year ago, including a 21.9% slide in June.

Most of the U.S., European and Asian automakers report their second-quarter auto sales Wednesday. This article will be periodically updated as they release their results.

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