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New Car Sales Up Year Over Year, But Down From May

Good news: June auto sales increased 12% compared to last year; not-so-good news: suppliers saw a 4.6% decline from May.

Newly released figures from Ward’s Auto show total U.S. automobile sales declined 4.6% in June. On the upside, last month’s sales were 12% higher than they were the same time last year. Analysts say concerns about the strength of the recovery kept more consumers away from showrooms.

Among the major domestic automotive manufacturers, Chrysler, Ford, and GM reported month-over-month sales declines of 12%, 11%, and 13%, respectively. Meanwhile, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota said sales were off 9%, 23%, and 14%, respectively. Only Hyundai—maker of the popular Sonata and Genesis models—reported an uptick in sales: 4% month over month; 35% year over year.

Although June’s performance lagged that of May, April, and March, automakers and analysts alike are generally not discouraged by the news. Among other things, they cite similar ups and downs in past economic recoveries. They key issue, they say, is U.S. auto sales are still tracking to surpass last year’s unit sales of 10.6 million. Edmunds.com, which conducts automotive forecasting, estimates sales will total 11.5 million this year. Still others are projecting unit sales will reach 12.5 million based on the current pace.

BRAND MOMENTUM

Looking at the glass as “half-full,” several domestic automotive manufacturers emphasized brisk sales activity among specific brands. Take GM, for example. The automaker reported U.S. sales of 11,788 Cadillac vehicles in June, a 39% increase from the same month last year and the fifth consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains. Ditto for Chevrolet, which delivered 141,381 vehicles in June, a 32% gain year-over-year. Not to be outdone, GMC reported a 34% increase in retail sales and a 45% jump in total sales in the month of June, compared to the same month last year. This is the ninth consecutive month of retail year-over-year sales gains for GMC, and for the calendar year, GM said.

Similarly, Ford Motor Co. said its newest models contributed to a strong first half as Ford, Lincoln and Mercury dealers delivered 170,900 new vehicles in June–a 15% hike compared to year-ago numbers. Year-to-date sales totaled 954,745, up 28% with growth across Ford’s full family of cars (up 27%), utilities (up 24%) and trucks (up 32%).

According to Ken Czubay, Ford vice president, U.S. marketing, sales and service, sales for the 2011 F-Series Super Duty were 58% higher than a year ago, capturing more than 50 percent of the heavy duty pickup segment–believed to be the first time since year 2000 that Super Duty has achieved a 50% share. Meanwhile, retail sales for the Mustang were 37% higher than a year ago.

“New products continue to drive Ford’s success,” Czubay said. “Ford and its dealers continue to offer customers the strongest value proposition—leading fuel economy, quality and resale value on a wide range of vehicles. That’s why our business is growing.”
 

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