New-car sales surged ahead in July, with nearly all of the six largest carmakers represented in the U.S. reporting double-digit gains over last summer.
Ford, Toyota, Nissan and Chrysler posted sales increases of 10 percent or more, with GM gaining by 9.4 percent. Toyota's total sales actually paced ahead of Ford for the month, thanks to the strength of the RAV4 and Corolla and more incentives on its best-selling Camry sedan.
Honda and Acura were both down for the month.
Audi and Subaru sales rose steadily, too, while Volkswagen's sales slide continued. Hyundai posted its best July results ever.
Cruising through summer
Sales forecasts for the year are rising as a result of the strong summer numbers. Analysts at J.D. Power and LMC Automotive predicted July sales will reach a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of 16.6 million vehicles, down slightly from June's 17.0 million-unit SAAR. That's fueling the spiral in total dollars spent on new cars.
“The combination of high transaction prices and strong retail-sales volume is expected to result in consumers spending more than $36 billion on new vehicles in July," said John Humphrey, senior vice president of the global automotive practice at J.D. Power. "That would be the highest for the month of July since 2005 and an increase of $3 billion from July 2013.”
Also, LMC has adjusted its annual SAAR forecast to 16.3 million units for the year, the second upward revision this year--and possibly not the last.
“Further upward momentum in light-vehicles sales remains a strong possibility if the remainder of the year keeps pace with recent months and the expected improvement level in the overall economy is realized,” said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive.
With automakers still reporting some numbers, these are the sales figures issued so far by automakers for the month of July 2014:
General Motors: GM [NYSE:GM] says it sold 256,160 vehicles in July, up 9.4 percent on the year-ago period.
- Chevrolet was up 7.7 percent to 175,155 vehicles.
- GMC was rose 22.2 percent to 48,081 units, and all nameplates saw their sales rise.
- Cadillac was down 2.6 percent, falling to 15,241 units.
- Buick was up 7.9 percent, to 17,683 units, for its best July since 2006.
- Camaro sales were up 25 percent, while Corvette sales tripled. Sales of the Chevy Volt were up 13 percent.
Toyota / Lexus / Scion: Toyota reported preliminary sales numbers of 215,802 units in July, up 11.6 percent from the same period a year ago--putting it slightly ahead of Ford.
Ford: Ford Motor Co. [NYSE:F] sold 212,236 units in July, posting a 10-percent gain over the year-ago period. Lincoln accounted for 7,863 units, up 14 percent, with 204,373 Ford sales representing a gain of 9.4 percent. F-150 sales were up 4.6 percent; the new Expedition boosted sales 59.3 percent in July for that nameplate, and Explorer sales rose 31.8 percent. Sales of the Lincoln MKZ were off 1.2 percent.
Chrysler: Chrysler says it sold 167,667 units in July, up 20 percent over the year prior, for Chrysler's best July since 2005.
- Jeep sales of 59,558 units were up 41 percent
- Ram trucks tallied 37,669 sales, up 18 percent
- Fiat sold 3,807 vehicles in July, up 1 percent
- Dodge sales rose 3 percent to 43,118 units
- Chrysler brand sold 23,455 units, up 17 percent
- Chrysler Group's big leaders were the Fiat 500L, up 49 percent; both minivans were up in the double digits (Town & Country 41 percent, Grand Caravan up 10 percent), the Dodge Dart was up 23 percent, and the Jeep Wrangler was up 14 percent
Honda / Acura: American Honda Motor Co. [NYSE:HMC] sold 135,908 vehicles in July. Honda-branded vehicles accounted for 123,428 units, with Acura garnering the remaining 12,480 units. Honda was off 2.3 percent, with Acura down 17.6 percent.
Nissan / Infiniti: Nissan Motor Company [NASDAQ:NSANY] says it sold 121,452 units in July, a gain of 11.4 percent, and a new record for the month of July. Nissan Division accounted for 112,914 units, up 11.5 percent, while Infiniti was up 10 percent on the month to 8,538 vehicles. Nissan's electric Leaf hatchback sold 3,019 units, up 62 percent from the year-ago period, while the Altima checked in with 26,654 units.