July US Auto Sales Strong Despite Weak Consumer Spending

Despite a dip in consumer spending in July, auto sales were significantly stronger than forecasts, keeping the industry marching towards its best sales year since 2000.

US auto sales rose 5.3% over an already strong June to 1.5 million vehicles, an increase of over 2 percentage points over analyst expectations and equating to a seasonally adjusted sales rate (SAAR) of 17.55 million vehicles for the year.  The SAAR was up over June’s 17.2 million units and beat July forecasts of 17.1 million units.

Once again, the surge in sales was powered by consumers flocking to the light truck segment, which includes crossovers, pickups, midsized SUVs and also premium SUVs.  Sales for the segment rose 12.9% over June and 10.7% year-to-date.

Continued low prices at the pumps ($2.65 national average) meant that consumers abandoned smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.    Passenger car sales were down 2.9% over last month and 1.9% Year-to-date.

Key manufacturer results are shown below.


GM sold 272,512 vehicles in July, an increase of 6.4% over last month.  Sales for the year were up 3.9% over last year, marking the best July since 2007 for GM’s Cadillac, Buick, GMC and Chevrolet brands.

July Retail sales were up 14% over last year, while fleet deliveries were down 20%.  GM stated its intention to reduce deliveries to rental-car customers, while growing government and commercial customers.


Chevrolet posted its best July since 2006, increasing 8% over last year.  The popular Silverado pickup truck and the Colorado models were strong performers, with the latter staying on dealer lots for only 16 days on average.  Crossover sales were also strong, with the Chevy Traverse and the Chevy Trax posting strong gains.


GMC also had its best July since 2005.  GMC pickup truck sales roles 28% with the GMC Sierra and Canyon also posting the highest average transaction prices according to JD Power.  The GMC Acadia was up 32%, its best month ever.


The Buick brand enjoyed its best July since 2006, with Encore deliveries up 68%.  Buick’s Enclave posted sales gains of 25%, again its best ever July performance.


Cadillac saw CTS sales up 18%, a healthy increase given weakness in the passenger car segment in general.  Its SRX crossover was up 47% over last year.

In terms of vehicle segments, GM saw cars down 8.5% and light trucks up 13.8% over July 2014.


Solid demand for Ford’s latest vehicles helped Ford Motor Company to its best July US Sales performance since 2006.  Deliveries were up 5% over last year to a total of 222,731 units for the month.


Ford’s light truck sales were up 9.3%, driven by a 13% increase in F-series sales (Ford F-150, 250, 350).

Ford branded SUVs are also strong performers, posting gains of 11% over last year.  Ford Escape sales increased 10%, while Explorer sales were up 27%.  The all-new Ford Edge also performed, sales increasing 17%.

On the passenger car side, total sales were down 3.9%, despite an increase of 5% in Ford Fusion sales and 29% in Mustang sales.


Lincoln brand sales increased 21% over last year following on the back of a strong June.  The Lincoln MKC was up 60% and the new Navigator up 24%.  The all-new Lincoln MKX continued to gather momentum with sales being up 27% over June 2015.  According to Ford, the MKC sat on dealer lots for only 6 days.


FCA reported a July US sales increase of 6.2% to 178,027 vehicles, the firm’s best July performance since 2005 and its 64th consecutive monthly sales increase.  Year to date, total sales were up 6.1%, with sales of light trucks increasing 14.3% and passenger car sales up at 3.5%.

Sales for light trucks led the way, increasing 7.2% over last year, while passenger car sales also increased at a more modest 2.9%.


Jeep brand sales increased 23% over last year, its 22nd consecutively monthly gain and best ever July performance.  Particularly strong performers included the Jeep Wrangler, Cherokee, Patriot and Jeep Compass, which all had their best July ever.

Sales of the newish mid-sized Chrysler 200 and the Chrysler 300 also performed exceedingly well in July, with the former increasing 85% and the latter increasing 6%.


July sales for the Ram truck brand, which include the Ram Pickup truck, Ram ProMaster, Ram ProMaster City and the Ram Cargo Van were not quite as strong as for Jeep and Chrysler, increasing only 1% over the prior year.

Sales of the Ram ProMaster van increased 25%, its best ever unit volume since initial launch in 2013.  The the Ram Pickup truck stayed almost flat (+1%).  Otherwise, the first 2016 Ram 3500 heavy-duty truck rolled off the assembly line at FCA’s Saltillo plant.


Dodge brand sales were down 13% for the month compared to last year.  Despite this, high points included the Dodge Challenger and Dodge Journey models, which recorded their best July ever.  Sales increased 20% and 16% respectively.  The Dodge Charger also fared well, with July sales up 5% and the Durango SUV noted its best July for two years.


Sales for Fiat declined 15% because of continued weakness in the Fiat 500 and 500L models.  However, the all-new Fiat 500X helped stem the overall decline with sales increasing 197% over June 2015.  Fiat reported selling 962 units in July and expect larger sales volumes as production is ramped up.


Nissan Group reported July 2015 sales up 7.8% over last year to 130,872 units.  Light trucks performed well across the group, increasing 23.1% over last year.  In contrast, car sales fell 1.2%.

Nissan’s light truck volume was driven by a 50.9% increase in sales for the Nissan Rogue, its highest volume and popular crossover.  The Murano, Xterra and Pathfinder models also performed well, up 17.7%, 11.5% and 5.9% respectively.  Sales for Nissan’s pickup truck, the Titan increased 5%.  The Nissan Frontier was down 27.7% as was Nissan’s large SUV, the Armada (-7.4%).

On the car side, the real bright point was the Nissan Altima, which posted a gain of 27%.  Its larger cousin, the Maxima fell by about the same amount.  Sales for Nissan’s electric car, the Leaf, fell 61%, with sales also falling by 27% for the ultra-high performance GT-R.


Hyundai sales increased 6.0% to 71,013 units sold, making it Hyundai’s best ever July sales month.  Strong performers included the Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport, where combined sales were up 35%.  Hyundai’s Tucson, its compact crossover saw modest gains of 4%.

The mid-sized Sonata, Hyundai’s highest volume vehicle gained 12%, while sales for the Elantra, its second highest volume vehicle stayed flat.  The Hyundai Accent, a compact car, performed well, up 14%.  The Hyundai Veloster, Genesis and Equus models all posted declines for the month.


Subaru reported that sales volume was up a 10.5% over June 2014 to 45,714 units sold and marking its best ever sales month.  Subaru continued its record-breaking trend, with sales increasing for 43 months in a row and unit volume being greater than 40,000 for the 17th consecutive month.

Crossovers fared well for Subaru, with sales for the Subaru Forrester, its highest volume vehicle up 8.9% and sales for the XV Crosstrek up 29.9%.  The Outback, Subaru’s second highest volume vehicle saw a sales decline of 7.7%.  The Legacy also fell by 3.8% while the Impreza was up 21.6%.

On the sporty side, Subaru had a great month with the WRX/STI model, which gained 85%.


Despite a sales increase in June, Mazda’s July sales fell 7.1% to 27,157 units, compared to the previous year.  The decline was mostly because of the phasing out of the Mazda 2 and the 5.

The Mazda 3, MX-5 Miata and CX-5 all posted strong gains, up 1.3%, 183.2% and 4.6% respectively.   Sales for the mid-sized Mazda6 fell 4.1% as did sales for the CX-9 SUV (-5.2%).


Mitsubishi announced July sales up 23.3% over last year to 7,868 units sold, its 17th consecutive monthly gain.  The Mitsubishi Outlander and Outlander Sport models all posted strong gains over last year, while the Mirage ticked down a hair.  Mitsubishi Lancer sales were also up in the low single digits over July 2014.


Audi posted a 20.8% gain in July with 14,616 units sold and its 55th consecutive monthly increase.  July 2015 was also the firm’s best July sales performance ever.

The A3 continued its prolific sales rate, posting a 46% increase over last year.  Sales for A6 increased 5.9%, while sales for the A4, A5 and A8 fell 18.4%, 31.4% and 16.8% respectively.

Audi SUVs performed well, with the Audi Q3, Q5 and Q7 collectively up 68.4% over last year.  Sales of Audi Certified-Preowned (CPO) vehicles were up 10.3%.


Volkswagen of America reported a sales increase of 2.4% over July 2014 to 31,300 units. The all-new VW Golf family, which includes the Golf GTi and Golf TDI Clean Diesel saw sales increases of 174.6%.

Sales for the refreshed VW Jetta, outfitted with several driver assistance packages, were up 4.2% over July 2014.  VW Passat and Passat-based CC sales were down, with the latter down 48%.

VW saw some optimism in sport-utility vehicles, the Touareg and the Tiguan, with sales 16.4% and 13.5% respectively.  VW’s venerable Beetle stayed mostly flat.


Porsche reported July sales of 4,730 units, up 10% over last year.  The gain was driven entirely by the Porsche Macan small SUV model line, where sales were up over 50%.  Sales were down in the low single-digits to flat for the remaining vehicles, including the Porsche Boxster and Cayman, Porsche 911 range , the Panamera and the the Cayenne.


Mercedes-Benz achieved an all-time record July for its Mercedes-Benz branded vehicles with sales of 27,192 units, an increase of 1.2% over last year.

Mercedes-Benz brand sales were primarily driven by C-Class, E-Class and ML-Class (soon to be replaced by the GLE ) sales, with the C-Class up 12% over last July.  A key driver for C-Class sales is the all-new platform replicating the luxurious S-Class models.

Mercedes-AMG models also posted a 7.3% gain over last year. Finally, Mercedes-Benz Certified Preowned (CPO) sales were up 6.1%.


BMW Group reported sales of BMW branded vehicles of 26,970 units, up 2.1% over 2014.  BMW’s passenger car sales declined 16%, continuing upon last month’s 12.9% decline.

July Light truck sales continued to skyrocket from last month, increasing 76.5% over last year.  X3 sales were up 49.5% while X5 sales increased 123.6%.

On the Mini side, BMW saw a decrease of 10.7%.


Toyota Motor Sales USA announced total sales of 217,181 units in July, an increase of 0.6% over last year.

Toyota brand sales were down 0.6% compared over June 2014, despite Toyota light trucks including the Tacoma enjoying a record July.  The Toyota Camry and Corolla continued to be high volume sellers.  The Highlander, RAV4 and 4Runner posted strong increases in the teens.

Lexus sales were up 9.1% also driven by demand for light trucks.  Sales of Lexus SUVs increased 28%, with the all-new Lexus NX performing well and GX sales up 20% over last year.


Jaguar Land Rover’s group sales increased 7% over last year to 6,253 units, providing its best ever July performance.

Sales for the Land Rover division were up 8%, making it the second-best July sales month ever.  The Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models were key factors.

For the Jaguar brand, sales were up 5%, led primarily by the Jaguar XF model, where sales were up 96%.

Total US auto sales data is provided here.


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    By Farra Majid, August 4, 2015



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Posted by: Farra Majid on Tuesday, August 4th, 2015 at 4:59 pm in INDUSTRY