The sales data for June is conflicting. Deliveries were up by 7% over last June (whereas May deliveries were down compared to a year ago), which suggests things were better than in May. But the annualized sales pace of 11.4 million was worse than May's 11.8 million, which suggests that things were, in fact, no better.
The truth is that May's sudden slowdown continued last month. Many of the Japanese automakers have low inventories of key models. Partially as a result, automakers cut back incentive spending, so there aren't many sweet deals to entice buyers into showrooms. Again as a result, manufacturers are netting more profits on the cars that they do sell, as transaction prices are quite high.
Supply problems for the Japanese once again made for a remarkable hierarchy, where Hyundai-Kia outsold Honda and Nissan, and Chrysler outsold not only Nissan and Honda but also Toyota. The top six best-selling nameplates were all American-brand cars. This is not the new normal. When will supplies to be back to normal? The latest word is September. When that happens, we can expect volumes to shoot up. Until then, the domestic and the Korean brands will experience a tailwind thanks to diminished competition and all automakers will enjoy higher transaction prices even if overall volumes are depressed.
SALES RESULTS FOR JUNE 2011, AND PERCENT CHANGE VERSUS JUNE 2010
GENERAL MOTORS +11% (Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, and GMC only)
June was a successful month for General Motors, as its sales increase over last year beat the industry average. At the same time, the company lessened its dependence on fleet sales, although they still accounted for 27% of GM's total.
Both the Cruze (America's bestselling car!) and the Malibu topped 20,000 units in June, although we suspect that there's plenty of fleet sales in those totals -- particularly for the Malibu. The Equinox (+56%) is also doing well, as is the Camaro (+13%). The Tahoe (-20%), Avalanche (-15%), and Suburban (-14%) all declined, but the Silverado (+5%) increased. The HHR, meanwhile, plummeted by 86%.
Buick was up in June, with retail sales outpacing the overall increase. The addition of the Regal is the major factor, as the Lucerne (-53%) and the Enclave (-12%) were both down.
Cadillac blames its slip on lower rental-fleet sales, and points to an increase in retail sales of 5%. Overall, sales for the SRX increased 4%, while the CTS was flat; other models declined.
The Terrain (+52%) continues to post the biggest volume increases for GMC, but it was joined this month by the big vans (+47%), the Sierra (+8%), the Acadia (+7%), and even the Canyon (+28%).
FORD MOTOR COMPANY +20% (excluding Mercury and Volvo)
Ford got help at the bookends of its lineup, and in the middle as well. The company claims that the Focus and Fiesta are its fast-selling models (in terms of how long they linger at dealerships), while the F-series saw its volume increase slightly. In the middle came strong performances by the new Explorer and the Fusion. Finally, Lincoln enjoyed a month in the black.
It's not surprising that the new Explorer (+56%) is running far ahead of the old model, but one wonders how the aged Escape defies gravity (+43%). F-series volumes crept up (+7%) on lower gas prices, although the Transit Connect also did well (+40%).
Both of Lincoln's modern sedans were in positive territory: MKS (+18%) and MKZ (+31%). The MKX (+36%) also looked good, but the MKT (-24%) did not.