2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMGEnlarge Photo
New-car sales in June kept up a heated pace, with most automakers reporting strong gains for the month.Chrysler, Toyota, and Nissan sales rose, as did GM's by a slight amount, while Ford's slipped. Volkswagen sales were down as well, while luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz and Audi continued a record-setting pace.
Analysts had predicted more of the Big Six carmakers would fall into a summer funk, since June had fewer selling days than did May--but it didn't pan out that way. Instead, sales forecasts for the year are actually rising.
Automakers and marketing analysts alike are predicting a sales year coming in between 16 million and 16.5 million vehicle sales--while GM's early estimates for the month of June clocked in at 16.6 million units.
According to J.D. Power and LMC Automotive, June sales will reach a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of 16.3 million vehicles, down slightly from May's 16.7 million-unit SAAR because of fewer selling days in the month--24, versus 26.
"June sales are being heavily influenced by a quirk of the industry sales calendar," said John Humphrey, senior vice president of the global automotive practice at J.D. Power.
LMC predicts sales will hit 16.2 million units for the year, up slightly from its earlier forecasts this year.
“The U.S. auto market is arguably in the best position and health it has been in since well before the great recession,” said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive.
Long-term lending at play
J.D. Power also reports through its Power Information Network that transaction prices this year are up to $29,630, up from $28,880 a year ago. Rising prices haven't slowed sales because loan terms are getting longer, and leasing is swinging back into vogue. Power's PIN says 72-month loans now account for 31.8 percent of all retail car sales, up from 30.2 percent last year, and that leasing is back to 26 percent of retail sales, up from 23.8 percent.
J.D. Power analysts say younger buyers in particular are going for longer term-financing. Some 44 percent of shoppers 35 years old and younger are choosing 72-month loans. The figure falls to 25 percent for buyers 55 years and older.
TrueCar reports different average sales prices of $30,575, down marginally over the past two months. It adds that incentives are keeping a measured pace--on average, $2,735 per vehicle in June, up marginally over the past year.Here are the sales figures reported by automakers for the month of June 2014:
General Motors: GM [NYSE:GM] says it sold 267,461 units in June of 2014, up 1 percent despite fewer selling days and the negative publicity stemming from its ignition-switch recalls, still underway. On the year, GM sales are up 2.5 percent.
Ford: Ford Motor Co. [NYSE:F] sold 222,064 vehicles in June, a 5.8-percent drop from the same period a year ago. Ford brand accounted for 214,793 vehicles sold, down 5.9 percent. Among the models dropping in sales were the subcompact Fiesta, C-Max hybrid, Taurus sedan, and Edge crossover--even the stalwart Ford F-150 was down (11 percent), though Ford's Fusion sedan was up 13.5 percent.
Lincoln's sales of 7,271 units were off 2.9 percent. The MKZ was off 6 percent, but the new Lincoln MKC crossover sold 684 units in its first month on sale--better than the MKS sedan and MKT crossover, and approaching the Navigator SUV.
Toyota / Lexus / Scion: Toyota sold 201,714 units in June, up 11.9 percent from June 2013 on an adjusted basis. Sales were up 3.3 percent on an unadjusted basis. The Toyota brand accounted for 178,196 units sold, up 2.5 percent adjusted, while Lexus was up 10.1 percent adjusted, to 23,518 units. Sales of every Scion-brand vehicle were down, as the nameplate moved 4,612 vehicles, off 27.3 percent, unadjusted. Sales of the Toyota Camry and 4Runner were up, but its Prius was off 11.5 percent, and the Avalon was down 14.1 percent. Lexus sold 3,932 IS sedans in June, up 104.9 percent over the same month in 2013--but leased only 2 LFA sportscars, which was actually a 100-percent increase over May.
Chrysler: Chrysler says it sold 171,086 units in June, up 9 percent over June 2013, for Chrysler's best June since 2007.
Honda / Acura: American Honda Motor Co. [NYSE:HMC] says it sold 129,023 vehicles in June, off 6.2 percent on an adjusted basis, a grimmer 13.4 percent down on an unadjusted basis. Honda claimed 117,817 units, down 4.3 percent unadjusted, while Acura sold 11,206 units, down 18.6 percent unadjusted. Sales of the Civic and Accord rose, while the Pilot and CR-V fell. Acura's only gainer: the MDX, up 27.7 percent.Nissan / Infiniti: Nissan Motor Company [NASDAQ:NSANY] says it sold 109,643 vehicles in June, up 5.3 percent for a new June record. Nissan accounted for 101,069 units, up 6.4 percent, with strong sales for the Versa subcompact (+33.4 percent) and Altima (+9.1 percent). Infiniti was off 5.9 percent, to 8,574 units. The electric Leaf hatchback accounted for 2,347 units, up 5.5 percent from June 2013.