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Auto sales for the month declined 5.5% year-over-year to 48,380 units from 51,205 units, truck sales also decreased 1.0% to 110,788 units, while SUVs sales rose 8.0% to 82,881 units as compared to a year earlier.

The results put an end to the United States auto industry's eight-year streak of increases, as the national total slipped 1.5% to 17.23 million, according to Autodata.

General Motors, Toyota and Ford all reported a 1 percent declines in sales past year compared to 2016.

The light-truck segment - which includes SUVs, pickup trucks and vans - accounted for 68.6 per cent of the market share, an increase of 8.7 per cent when compared to 2016, according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc. Cadillac and Lexus both saw their sales drop 8 percent a year ago; Lincoln sales plummeted 17 percent in December.

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Sales of the Ford F-Series pickups rose 2.1% year over year in December to 89,385 units, and F-Series transaction prices rose $3,400 year over year to $47,800.

Fiat Chrysler did not release year-end figures, but its December sales fell 11 percent to 171,946, a bit below the level projected by Edmunds, but above the forecast by Kelley Blue Book.

- LUXURY CROWN: Mercedes-Benz's sales fell 1 percent to 337,246, but that was still enough to make it the top-selling luxury brand in the USA for the second straight year.

And the US auto industry continues to enjoy strong demand for larger vehicles, including SUVs, pickup trucks and "crossover" models. While that included a 15.2% decline in auto sales from 2016, it also included a record year for sales of SUVS at the U.S. carmaker.

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Most major automakers on Wednesday reported lower December US sales and forecast weaker overall sales in 2018, but investors bid up shares in the sector on a bet that high-margin pickup trucks and SUVs will pull Detroit's automakers through any downturn.

Ford's overall sales increased by 0.9% in December, but the automaker, which is more and more dependent than ever on the success of its trucks and sport-utes, saw full-year sales drop 1.1% led by a 14.2% decline in auto sales. GM reported a less dramatic monthly drop than analysts expected, as sales of the Chevrolet Silverado climbed 25%.

Ford says, even with bitter temperatures and snow, it saw strong sales in the last 10 days of December. SUV sales fell 12% year over year in December. But most other automakers saw declines. Honda division saw its sales drop last month by 6.3%, but came in with a 0.7% jump for all of 2017.

But GM said it expected the industry to sell less than 17 million new vehicles in 2018. Fiesta sales fell by 3% and Fusion sales fell 8.8% year over year. Volkswagen's dropped 19 percent.

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