July Auto Sales Lose Steam after Six Years of Growth
July new-car sales in the United States were expected to edge up to 1.54 million units from year-ago totals, with help from an extra sales weekend, demand for light trucks, and higher fleet sales, according to a recent update from J.D. Power and auto forecasting partner LMC Automotive. However, July deliveries of new cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans appear to have calmed more than anticipated. July in both 2015 and 2016 had 26 selling days.
Detroit-based automakers General Motors (-1.9%) and Ford Motor Co. (-2.8%) posted slimmer deliveries, and even pace-setting Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) (+0.3%) saw a smaller increase than usual. Among Japanese giants, American Honda (+4.4%) posted the largest gain and its Honda brand set a July company record. Even though the Nissan division set a record, Nissan Group (+1.2%) sales edged up only slightly, while Toyota Group (-2%) posted lower deliveries than the same period a year ago. Hyundai Group (+6%) kept a more heated pace, celebrating July records for both the Hyundai and Kia brands.
Among the Europeans, Daimler Group (+7.2%) said Mercedes-Benz sold 3.6% more units to capture the July luxury sales title. BMW Group (-4.4%) officials reported volatility in the market. Volkswagen Group (-3.8%) said VW brand (-8.1%) sales totals were better than double-digit losses in prior months. Land Rover Jaguar sales likely rose, but totals were unavailable until Wednesday, while Volvo Cars sales surged 52.3% in July.
Among independents, Subaru (+3.1%) and Mazda (+2.8%) posted gains while Mitsubishi (+0.3%) remained in positive territory.
Highlights: July 2016 Auto Sales
Following are July 2016 new-vehicle sales highlights, based on unadjusted actual totals, for each major automaker.
American Honda—Sport utilities bolstered American Honda (+4.4%) sales, which totaled 152,799 units in July. Honda brand (+12.2%) deliveries climbed to 139,125 units, with increases from the Fit and Civic. Among utilities, the CR-V, HR-V, and Pilot posted gains and the new Ridgeline continued to gain momentum with 3,518 unit sales. Acura (-8.3%) sold 13,674 units.
BMW Group—BMW Group (-5%) ended July with 30,551 unit sales. BMW brand (-4.4%) sales slipped to 25,777 units even with double-digit gains from the 2 Series and 7 Series plus the X1 small crossover utility. Mini (-8%) sold 5,191 units.
Daimler AG—Deliveries for Daimler AG (+7.2%) edged up to 32,228 units. Mercedes-Benz (3.6%) sold 28,523 units in July. The C-Class (-1.3%) remained the volume leader for the brand and there was strength from the GLE and new E-Class. Also, S-Class sales rose 26%. Vans (+51.3%), including Sprinter, totaled 3,272 unit sales, while Smart improved 11.8%.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles—Sales at FCA (+0.3%) rose slightly in July to 180,124 deliveries. Jeep (+5%) and Ram (+5%) continued to see gains, while Dodge (-10%), Chrysler (-4%), and Fiat (-14%) posted declines. Jeep Renegade sales soared (+57%). Also, FCA midsize van sales improved. Dodge Grand Caravan and Durango sales rose in double digits, while Chrysler’s new Pacifica was up 1% from the van’s June ramp-up with 7,911 deliveries.
Ford Motor Company—Ford Motor (-2.8%) delivered 215,268 units in July. The market’s leading Ford brand (-2.7%) sold 207,381 new cars and trucks in the month. Truck deliveries rose 4.8%, while car and sport utility sales declined. Even sales of Ford’s best-selling F-Series pickup (65,657) faltered by 1%, compared with last July. The Mustang was the only car model to post a double-digit gain, while the Edge and Expedition supported SUV sales. Ford van sales also improved 26%. Despite stronger demand for the MKZ and the new MKX, Lincoln (-4.6%) sales slipped.
General Motors—Sales at GM (-1.9%) dipped to 267,258 units in July. Yet, three of GM’s four brands posted gains: Buick (+10.4%); Cadillac (+1.3%); and GMC (+4.8%). Only Chevrolet (-5.3%) brand sales declined, falling to 178,820 units, even with double-digit gains for the Colorado, Suburban, Traverse, Trax, and plug-in hybrid Volt. The Cadillac ATS was up 33% and the new XT5 nearly hit 5,000 unit sales. The Regal was a star for Buick, and GMC Canyon, Sierra, and the Yukon/Yukon XL accelerated demand in double digits from last July.
Hyundai Group—Hyundai Group (+6%) sales were 134,972 units. Hyundai brand (+5.6%) sales reached 75,003 units for a record, with gains from the Accent, Santa Fe, and a strong boost from the Tucson. Kia (+6.5%) was not to be outdone with 59,969 unit sales and double-digit gains for the Rio, Forte, Sportage, and Sedona. The Soul was again the brand’s sales leader and is on a roll lately, having earned segment awards in two recent J.D. Power studies—the 2016 U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS) and the 2016 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study.
Jaguar Land Rover—Combined sales for the two luxury auto brands owned by India’s Tata Group climbed 51.5% in July to 9,473 units.
Mazda—Robust sales of crossover utilities—the CX-5 and all-new CX-9—gave Mazda a 2.8% increase from a year ago to 27,915 units this July.
Mitsubishi—Sales were up 0.3% (+22 units) for the independent car brand, which posted gains for the Outlander and Outlander Sport.
Nissan Group—Nissan Group (+1.2%) lost some momentum in July, but is still on pace for a strong sales year, delivering 132,475 new vehicles for the month just ended. Nissan brand (+1.7%) set a July record, selling 122,530 units with momentum from the Maxima and Versa, as well as crossover SUVs. The Rogue small crossover SUV had its best month ever with a 33% jump, and Frontier sales soared 73%, compared with July 2015. In contrast, Infiniti (-4.7%) sales slipped, even with a sixfold gain for the QX50 and strength from the QX80.
Subaru—Subaru (+3.1%) set another company record in July with 52,093 unit sales and gains from the Legacy and Outback.
Toyota Group—Toyota Group (-1.4%) sales slipped to 214,233 units. Toyota brand (-0.5%) sales plateaued at 186,343 units. Light trucks were the strongest sellers—up 7.3%, although the Corolla posted a small gain. The RAV4 and Highlander celebrated best July totals, while the 4Runner and Land Cruiser posted double-digit increases. Prius (-29.2%) sales sank again. Scion, which will be folded into Toyota in August, continued to see double-digit improvements for the iA and iM. Lexus (-6.5%) sold 27,890 vehicles with strength from the RX-Series, NX, and LX.
Volkswagen Group—Now in the process of settling the VW diesel emissions cheating debacle, VW Group (-3.7%) sold 47,122 units in July, which was better than expected. VW brand (-8.3%) sold 28,758 units, with gains from the GTI and Tiguan. Audi (+4%) sales of 18,364 total units were led by the Q3, Q7, and A4. Porsche sales declined 18%, to 3,878 units.
Volvo—Sales at Volvo (+52.3%) surged in July, led by the XC60 and XC90 SUVs.