July 2011 Car Sales: It's The Economy, Stupid

August 2, 2011
Car sales reports are rolling in today from auto manufacturers, even as the nation's leaders struggle with a compromise to keep America's economy from falling into default.

As expected, sales aren't quite up to the levels seen earlier this year, which is fueling concerns that the economy that had shown some vitality earlier in the year is sagging--which in turn is leaving automakers wondering if any strong recovery is in sight.

While final numbers filter in, the market analysts at J.D. Power are predicting the seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) coming in at about 11.9 million units in July--with just 9.8 million units being sold at the retail level.

The reason? It's the economy, says Power's director of forecasting Jeff Schuster.

"Consumers continue to face obstacles in their willingness and ability to purchase a new vehicle,” he says.

Slow car sales are also still sluggish in the wake of some uncontrollable events. The lingering effects of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan are still expected to affect numbers from Toyota, Honda and Subaru, but those manufacturers all confirm they've brought production back up to speed sooner than initially predicted.

The results by automaker, with some still to come:  

General Motors: In all, GM sales were up 8 percent on the month with a total of 214,915 vehicles sold in July. Chevrolet sales rose 6 percent to 149,005 units, behind the strong-selling Cruze and Equinox; the brand is up 14 percent on the year. Buick rose slightly to 16,873 sales, while it's up 27 percent on the year; GMC moved 37,918 vehicles, up 36 percent on the month and to date, 25 percent on the year. Cadillac sales, though, fell 26 percent on the month to 11,119 units, though it's up 9 percent for the year.

Ford: Ford sold 180,865 vehicles in July, an increase of 9 percent over July 2010. The Ford brand's sales were up 13 percent, behind the Explorer (up 108 percent) and the Fusion (up 17 percent). Lincoln sales were up 40 percent on the month, are up a percent, with MKZ sales up 80 percent.

Chrysler: Chrysler says it sold 112,026 vehicles in July, for a 20-percent boost over July 2010. Jeep's strength came from the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee, while the Dodge Durango helped that brand to its increase over a year ago. Fiat sales are climbing, up 68 percent on the month. However, Chrysler says it's sitting on 72 days' worth of cars to sell, where a 60-day supply is considered normal.

Toyota / Lexus:Toyota continued to suffer the effects of the March disasters in Japan, and from its own recall-related sales dip. The automaker sold 130,802 vehicles in July, down 19.7 percent on the year on an adjusted basis. The Toyota brand recorded 116,263 sales, off 19.8 percent, while Lexus moved 14,539 units, a drop of 18.8 percent. Scion sales were off 21.9 percent for the month, though the tC two-door saw its sales rise 27.6 percent.

Honda / Acura: Honda saw sales fall once more as it begins to recover lost production from the March 11 disasters. The total sales of 80,502 vehicles posted by the automaker represents a decrease of 25.6 percent. Honda was off 25.7 percent at 71,000 units, though the Pilot crossover was up 8 percent on the month. Acura fell 25 percent to 9,402 units. On the year, Honda is off 2.6 percent, and Acura, 5.5 percent.

Nissan / Infiniti: Nissan says it sold 84,601 vehicles in July. That's a rise of 2.7 percent, due primarily to a Nissan-brand sales  increase of 6.4 percent. Infiniti dropped by 24.1 percent for the month.

Hyundai: Hyundai reports it sold 59,561 vehicles in July. That translates to a 10-percent boost over the same month in 2010, and a seventh sales record in a row. On the year, Hyundai is up 23 percent.

Kia: Kia broke more of its own sales records in July as it sold 45,504 vehicles, up 28.5 percent on the month. The Sorento is its best seller, with 13,262 sold in July. The brand is up 29 percent on the year.

Volkswagen: VW says it sold 29,066 vehicles in July, up 21.7 percent over last year. The brand is up 22.2 percent on the year, behind the Jetta, up 50.9 percent in July, and the Touareg, up 119 percent for the month. Diesels again claimed a quarter of Volkswagen's entire U.S. sales volume.

BMW / MINI: BMW says sales of its combined BMW and MINI brands totaled 26,120 vehicles. The 11.7-percent rise included a total of 21,409 BMW cars and crossover, up 12.3 percent. MINI sold 4,711 cars, up 8.9 percent on the month. The company is up 13 percent on the year.

Mercedes-Benz: The German automaker says it sold 21,065 vehicles in July, up 16.7 percent over 2010. Year to date, Benz sales are up 11.3 percent.

Subaru: Subaru sold 21,730 vehicles in July, down 9.4 percent over a year ago. For the year to date, the company has moved 153,779 units.

Mazda: Mazda sold 20,783 vehicles in July, a slight uptick from a year ago. For the year, Mazda sales have increased 4.9 percent.

Audi: Audi says it sold 9,146 vehicles in July, a record for the month going back a decade. The brand is on a tear this year: to date, sales are up nearly 16 percent.

Mitsubishi: Mitsubishi says its July 2011 sales reached 7,972 units, up 41.1 percent compared to 2010. Most of the sales increases came in vehicle lines due to be dropped in 2012.

Volvo: Volvo tallied 5,595 sales in July, an increase of 29.5 percent. On the year, Volvo sales are up 28.8 percent.

Porsche: Not yet reported.

Jaguar/Land Rover: Jaguar and Land Rover sales fell overall in the month of July. With the brands up 12 percent on the year, Jaguar saw monthly numbers sink 35 percent to 984 units; Land Rover was flat against July 2010, with sales of 3,795 vehicles.

Suzuki: Suzuki posted sales of 2,447 vehicles in July, an increase of 25 percent over July 2010 numbers. On the year, the Suzuki brand is up 17 percent.

Saab: Not yet reported.

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