Economic indicators are mixed, and analysts worry that June's solid numbers could weaken as unemployment and consumer confidence continue to weigh on the market.
For the month of June, automotive analysts at J.D. Power estimate the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of retail new-vehicle sales at 11.9 million units, up nearly 300,000 units from the prior month. With fleet sales included, total vehicle sales are expected to reach a SAAR of 13.9 million units.
John Humphrey, senior vice president of global automotive operations at J.D. Power and Associates, says, "All indicators point toward an industry that continues to get healthy."
However, those numbers still reflect depressed demand after the 2008 financial crisis and recession, when the SAAR had held near 15 million units. The American car fleet is aging, which should be reflected in higher demand, but economic factors here and in Europe are overshadowing strong sales earlier this year, and casting a shadow on the second half of 2012.
In the U.S., unemployment for June is expected to remain level with May's 8.2 percent, and consumer-confidence numbers dropped in June for the fourth month in a row, even though home prices showed some signs of stabilizing in many markets, and gas prices remained relatively low. In Europe, the uncertain future of the Euro is impacting both GM and Ford; Ford expects to lose about $570 million in the second quarter on its European operations, while GM is contemplating yet another restructuring of its Opel unit.
Still, the upward trends in U.S. sales show promise. Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive, says that, "Despite a rising level of uncertainty with the economic recovery, consumers remain resilient in their willingness to purchase new vehicles."
LMC Automotive estimates the 2012 SAAR at 14.5 million units, a figure at the high end of the expectations of most automakers. Ford puts demand even higher, at 14.6 to 14.7 million units, with GM predicting between 14 and 14.5 million vehicle sales; Volkswagen estimates 13.9 million units for the 2012 calendar year.
Which companies are on the up side of sales this month--and which aren't? The totals for June 2012, as reported by the automakers:
2013 Ford Escape
General Motors: GM (NYSE: GM) says it sold 248,750 vehicles in the U.S. in June, for an increase of 16 percent on the year. It was GM's best month since September of 2008.
Among the brands, Chevrolet was up 14.8 percent to 180,098 units, including 1,760 Volts; GMC rose to 37,677 vehicle sales, up 14.9 percent. In advance of 2013 ATS, on sale later this summer Cadillac sold 12,124 vehicles, up 11.6 percent. And Buick sales rose to 18,851 units, an increase of 26.8 percent.
GM sold 12 percent more passenger cars in June than a year ago, while crossover sales rose 30 percent. GM says during 2012 and 2013, it will replace or redesign 70 percent of its nameplates.
Ford: Ford (NYSE: F) says it sold 207,759 vehicles in June, up 7 percent from a year ago. Ford division sales were up 7.2 percent to 200,215 units, while Lincoln sales rose 2.5 percent to 7,544 units.
Among its nameplates, the Ford Escape had its best month ever, with sales on a 28-percent rise; like Escape, the Fusion is selling at record levels in its final model year, at 136,849 units so far this year.
Toyota / Lexus / Scion: Toyota said it sold 177,795 vehicles in June, a 54.3-percent increase on an adjusted basis, or 60.3 percent, unadjusted. Toyota-brand vehicles were 157,773 of the total, up 51.7 percent on an adjusted basis; Lexus sold 10,247 vehicles, up 99.7 percent. Scion was up 134.1 percent, to 8,400 units.
Chrysler: Chrysler LLC sold 144,811 vehicles in June, up 20 percent over the same period last year--its best June results in five years.
The Chrysler brand accounted for 26,863 units, for a 63-percent increase. Jeep sales rose 23 percent to 44,519 vehicles; Dodge was up 2 percent to 44,315 units; Ram rose 11 percent to 25,110 trucks sold; and Fiat moved 4,004 units in June, a 122-percent increase over last year's lax numbers.
Among its nameplates, Chrysler had some standouts. The Jeep Grand Cherokee posted its best June since 2005, with sales up 39 percent. The Chrysler 300 saw a 179-percent jump in sales in June. However, the well-received Dodge Durango was off 43 percent, and is off 9 percent on the year.Chrysler says it has a 67-day supply of vehicles on hand, while a 60-day supply is considered normal. It pegs the SAAR for June at 14.4 million units.
Honda / Acura: Honda says it sold 124,808 vehicles in June, up 48.8 percent from June of 2011, or 43.3 percent adjusted. Honda-brand vehicles accounted for 109,438 sales, up 45.6 percent, while Acura sales rose 76.5 percent, to 15,370 units.
Nissan / Infiniti: Nissan sold 92,237 vehicles in June, up 28.2 percent on the year. The Nissan brand accounted for 81,801 units of the total, up 24.6 percent; Infiniti sold 10,436 vehicles, up 66.1 percent on the year.
2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI Six-Month Road Test
2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI Six-Month Road Test
Hyundai: As has become its custom, Hyundai has given an early glance at its June sales numbers via Twitter. CEO John Krafcik reports: "Here's to the 63,813 new Hyundai owners last month...Best June ever, +8% over last year...thx & welcome aboard! ^jfk"
Volkswagen: VW reported its best sales since June of 1973 with a 34.2-percent increase. The made-in-America VW Passat sold more than 10,000 units for the fourth month in a row, while Jetta sales slumped 20 percent--perhaps related to strengthening Passat and Tiguan sales. Some 19.2 percent of all VW sales are TDI turbodiesels; 21 percent of all Passat sales are TDIs and the number could be higher, VW says, if it could source more.
Subaru: Subaru reports it sold 27,702 vehicles in June, for a 40-percent increase over June 2011. Impreza sales were up 146 percent on the month; on the year, Subaru has risen 24 percent.
Mazda: Mazda reported June sales of 19,911 vehicles, an increase of 3.1 percent. On the year, sales are up 17.5 percent.
Mercedes-Benz: Mercedes said it sold 22,231 vehicles under the Benz umbrella in June, up 7.6 percent over a year ago. At 128,595 units so far this year, Mercedes-Benz sales alone are already on a record pace, up 15.9 percent on the year. sales were up almost 23 percent on the year. Combined with smart's 1,017 sales and 2,140 Sprinter vans sold in June, the Daimler combined U.S. figure rises to 25,388 units--also a record.
BMW / MINI: BMW and MINI reported sales of 27,720 units in June, up 3.2 percent from the year prior. BMW accounted for 21,725 of those sales, up 0.4 percent; MINI claimed 5,995 sales, up 14.7 percent. On the year, the pair are up 10.5 percent.
Audi: Audi says it set an all-time sales record in June, its best month ever in 42 years on the U.S. market. it sold 12,664 vehicles, up 26 percent from June 2011.
Volvo: Volvo reports June sales of 7,107 vehicles, up 0.1 percent from June 2011's figures.
Mitsubishi: Mitsubishi did not release final sales totals for June, but said in a release its sales were off 34 percent for the month.
Jaguar/Land Rover: The combined British brands said their June sales totaled 4,632 units, up 2 percent from June 2011. Land Rover's June 2012 sales were up 14 percent to 3,602 SUVs; Jaguar sales fell 26 percent to 1,030 sedans and sportscars. On the year, Jaguar Land Rover is up 16 percent.
Porsche: In June, Porsche sales rose by 18 percent to 3,002 units.Suzuki: In June, Suzuki sold 2,229 vehicles, up 1 percent from June of 2011.