The polar vortex was one of those freakish meteorological occurrences where the weather just stopped making sense for a little while. It was cold in warm states with only Florida seeming to get off easy, and many areas saw snow that hadn’t in years.
The vortex had an economic effect, too, with stores and restaurants taking a hit as folks preferred to stay indoors during the cold spell. The auto-industry likewise reported lower than normal sales for January, suggesting that people don’t like to shop for cars in the snow anymore than they like to brave the cold for a hamburger and fries.
Chrysler managed to maintain strong profits through January, but Ford, GM and Toyota all took a hit from storms Hercules, Janus and Leon. Ford reported a 7% decline in auto sales, with fleet sales seeing a 14% drop. GM reported a 12% drop, while Ford reported a 14% decline.
Ad pushes through the March Madness season should go a long way towards putting the auto makers back on top. In the meantime, the brands may be playing their hands a little more cautiously, but it’s hard to believe that three of the biggest car companies in the world can’t afford to take the hit.