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SUVs and Summer Deals Spark July U.S. Auto Sales Surge

SUVs and Summer Deals Spark July U.S. Auto Sales Surge

By Philly Murtha, August 03, 2015

New products--especially SUVs--and summer deals, including offers matching automaker employee discount plans, helped bring car shoppers into dealer showrooms in July. In mid-July, J.D. Power and LMC Automotive projected that July car sales would rise in single digits from July 2014 to nearly 1.5 million units. In early reports released by automakers, sales for July 2015 were up by more than 5% from a year ago.

It was good news for the Detroit Three--all reported healthy increases from July 2014 and outperformed analysts' forecasts. General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) deliveries were up 6% and Ford Motor Co. sales improved nearly 5% from a year ago. Also, the three major Japanese automakers posted gains, with Nissan and Honda Groups selling nearly 8% more new vehicles in July, while Toyota Group sales rose by one-half point from a year ago.

Hyundai Group also saw sales advance in single digits. Two of the three independents posted strong gains--Subaru set a record and Mitsubishi was a top industry achiever in July, while Mazda posted a 7.1% decline in sales.

European brands also had mixed results in July. Both BMW (-0.2%) and Daimler Group (-2%) sales slipped mainly due to declines from their smaller brands, Mini and Smart. However, Volkswagen Group (+8.5%) posted a year-over-year gain with heady gains from Audi and Porsche brands.

In July, brands posting the highest gains were (alphabetically): Infiniti, Jeep, Lincoln, and Mitsubishi. Brands with steep losses were: Dodge, Fiat, Scion, and Smart.

Highlights: July 2015 Car Sales

Following are additional details regarding July auto sales for each major automaker:

American Honda--July sales surged (+7.7%) to 146,324 units with a boost from light trucks. Honda brand (+6.5%) was supported by Acura (+19.5%), which roared ahead of last July's numbers. The Honda CR-V (+11.4%) had its best July ever and the Acura RDX (+29.6%) also set a July record. The new HR-V crossover and redesigned Pilot tallied more than 15,900 unit sales combined. Civic (+3.7%) deliveries also improved, although the Accord (-1.6%) slipped from last year.

BMW Group--BMW Group (-0.2%) sales plateaued due to a fall-off in Mini (-10.7%) deliveries. In July, BMW brand deliveries rose 2.1% (26,970 unit sales) from a year ago. Strong sellers were the 2 Series and 7 Series and two crossovers--the X3 and X5.

Daimler AG--Mercedes-Benz (+0.15%) sales rose by 385 units to 25,363 units (without Sprinter) from 24,978 units a year ago. Group sales fell 2% due to drops from Smart (-67.4%) and Sprinter (-2.3%). July sales leaders were the C-Class (+12%) and M-Class (+17.6%).

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles--It was the automaker's best July since 2005 (+6.2%) with sales of 178,027 units. Jeep (+22.9%) was the top performer. Chrysler (+9.7%) rose due to demand for the 200 (+85%), while Ram (+1.2%) sales were stable. Fiat (-15%) and Dodge (-12.7%) deliveries fell, although Challenger and Charger sales increased. Eight models, including four from Jeep, posted July records.

Ford Motor Company--Overall sales (+4.9%) strengthened to 222,731 units. Ford brand (+4.3%) delivered 213,195 units in July, aided by boosts in demand for the new Mustang (+29.2%), Edge (+17%), refreshed Explorer (+27%), and the Transit. The Escape (+10%) set a July sales record. Overall, it was Ford's best July in nine years. The redesigned F-Series (+4.8%) posted an increase as Ford continues to build up supply of the new aluminum-body truck. Lincoln (+21.3%) also gained momentum in July with a healthy contribution from SUVs--MKX (+27%), Navigator (+24%), and MKC (+60%).

General Motors--July GM (+6%) sales totaled 272,512 units. All but one GM brand (Cadillac, -7.1%) posted a gain for the month. Buick celebrated a double-digit gain (+17.6%) with heady sales from the Buick Encore. Bread-and-butter Chevrolet (+7.8%) made news with Silverado large pickups surging by nearly one-third from a year ago. GMC (+1.4%) sales edged up slightly. SUVs were stars in the GM stable with double-digit gains for the Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave, and Cadillac SRX. On the car side, Chevy Malibu and Cadillac CTS deliveries rose 18% from a year ago.

Hyundai Group--The Hyundai brand set a July sales record (+6%), aided by the Santa Fe SUV (+35%). Other strong performers were: Accent, Sonata, and the Tucson compact SUV. Kia sales advanced by 7.7% as the Sportage and Sorento were strong sellers.

Jaguar Land Rover--Group sales advanced 7.3% in July, with gains from both brands--Land Rover (+7.9%) and Jaguar (+4.6%).

Mazda--Sales fell 7.1% for the month, although the redesigned MX-5 Miata nearly tripled deliveries from a year ago.

Mitsubishi--Sales climbed for a 17th straight month--up 23.9% from July 2014. Four of five models posted gains, with best sales performances from the Outlander Sport and Outlander SUVs.

Nissan Group--Deliveries rose 7.8%, setting a July sales record. Nissan brand (+6.7%) was bolstered by Infiniti (+22.2%). Despite ebbing industry sales for midsize car models, the Nissan Altima set a monthly sales record, as did the Murano SUV. Infiniti Q50 sales rose in double digits while QX60 sales surged 68.5%.

Subaru--Subaru deliveries rose 10.5% from July 2014, with record July sales for the XV Crosstrek, WRX/STI, Forester, and Impreza. July U.S. sales of 50,517 units were the strongest for any month in the brand's history.

Toyota Group--Sales inched up 0.6% to 217,181 units in July. Lexus (+9.1%) earned the July premium sales crown, with deliveries of 29,816 units that offset a dip in Toyota brand sales (-0.6%) and a decline from Scion (-24.6%). Trucks maintained their momentum. The Highlander (+12%), 4Runner (+26%), and Tacoma and Tundra pickups were strong sellers (+17%). Camry, Corolla, Avalon, and Prius sales fell in July; however, the Camry remained the best-selling car model in the industry. Although Lexus car sales slipped 5.3% from a year ago, SUV deliveries for the brand climbed 27.8% with gains from the NX and GX.

Volkswagen Group--Sales for the VW Group climbed 8.5% from July 2014. Volkswagen brand sales edged up with Golf deliveries soaring from a year ago. The VW Jetta and Tiguan also posted increases. Clean-diesel models accounted for nearly 26% of the brand's deliveries, according to a company statement. Premium Audi brand deliveries surged by one-fifth (+20.3%) and Porsche sales improved 10%.

Volvo--Sales increased 14.8% in July from a year ago, to 5,619 units.

*Sales percentage changes are unadjusted. July 2015 and July 2014 each had 26 selling days.

Additional Research:

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