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US auto sales rise as SUVs, trucks dominate

Key Points
  • Top U.S. automakers reported another month of rises in sales of sports utility vehicles and pick-up trucks on Thursday as American consumers continued to shun sedans and hatchbacks.
  • U.S. car sales, which dropped 2 percent last year from a record high of 17.55 million in 2016, are expected to fall further in 2018.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles assembly workers build 2019 Ram pickup trucks at the FCA Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan, October 22, 2018.
Rebecca Cook | Reuters

Top U.S. automakers reported another month of rises in sales of sports utility vehicles and pick-up trucks on Thursday as American consumers continued to shun sedans and hatchbacks.

The country's No. 2 producer, Ford, reported a 6.7 percent rise in SUV sales to 67,554 units in October, while smaller rival Fiat Chrysler saw overall sales rise 16 percent on higher demand for its Jeep and Ram vehicles.

U.S. car sales, which dropped 2 percent last year from a record high of 17.55 million in 2016, are expected to fall further in 2018, hurt by rising interest rates and the return of more late-model used cars to dealer lots.

But automakers have been helped by a shift by U.S. consumers away from traditional passenger cars towards larger, more comfortable SUVs and trucks, which tend to be more profitable for producers.

Sport utility vehicles contributed about 35 percent of Ford's total U.S. sales volumes in October, up from 31.6 percent a year ago.

Ford, which is also gradually phasing out production of most passenger cars in the United States, said total sales fell 3.9 percent to 192,616 vehicles, hurt by lower passenger car demand. Japan's Toyota separately said its U.S. sales rose about 1.4 percent to 191,102 units, due to increased demand for Highlander and Tacoma SUVs.

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Tech

Volvo and Baidu join forces to mass produce self-driving electric cars in China

Key Points
  • Volvo Cars will offer its expertise in advanced technologies in the auto industry, while Baidu provides its autonomous driving platform Apollo.
  • The long-term aim is for the two firms to sell the self-driving vehicles to Chinese customers.
  • China is home to a rapidly growing autonomous vehicles sector, with multiple tech firms in the country vying to own the space.