After a very encouraging May, auto sales swooned in June. The month of June is traditionally a bit slow, but this year was even slower than usual. Adjusting for the usually monthly variation, June's sales figure translates to an annual rate of 11.1 million units, which is weaker than we saw in March, April, or May. Still, overall industry sales were up 14% over the pathetic figures for June 2009.
Stubbornly high unemployment undoubtedly remains a drag on car sales, and those who do have jobs may have been spooked by the slumping stock market, which contributed to the background noise of economic anxiety. Modest incentive spending didn't provide much of a spark, but hefty fleet sales did pad the numbers, particularly for the domestics.
Absent of any relief in the job market (not likely) or the stock market (who can guess?), it's looking like auto sales could remain torpid all summer.
JUNE 2010 SALES, AND PERCENT INCREASE/DECREASE VERSUS 2009
GENERAL MOTORS +37% (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC only)
Without the drag of discontinued Pontiac, Saturn, and Hummer weighing down sales, "New GM" managed a much-better-than-industry-average sales gain for June. That good news, however, is tempered by two factors: First, year-ago June sales were particularly dismal for GM, as that's when the company entered bankruptcy; and second, GM's total was heavily bolstered by fleet sales.
The LaCrosse, at more than double its June '09 figure, is the major engine of growth for Buick, although the Enclave also helped a bit. The Regal, which is just trickling into showrooms, is not yet a factor.
The CTS was up by a third, but it was really the SRX, at more than five times last June's total, that pushed Cadillac ahead. Escalade sales were flat.
When Aveo sales suddenly more than double, and the Cobalt and Malibu jump by half, one has to suspect a fleet sales effect at work. The Camaro slipped a bit, allowing the Ford Mustang to pass it for a second month (but not for the year to date). The Equinox nearly tripled it year-ago total, continuing its strong performance, and the Traverse, Tahoe, Suburban, and Silverado all posted nice gains.
GMC largely mirrored Chevrolet truck results, with increases for the Acadia, the Yukon/Yukon XL, and the Sierra. But half of GMC's overall volume increase came from the addition of the Terrain to the lineup.