After taking a bit of a breather in May, consumers resumed their love affair with new cars in June. Shrugging off macro economic worries -- mostly having to do with the Euro -- buyers, low and behold, seemed more focused on matters closer to home, like the need to replace their aging set of wheels. Helping to nudge them in that direction were low interest rates, plentiful deals, and moderating gasoline prices.
Looking back to this time last year, we see a much different picture. Back then, new car sales were running at an annual rate in the mid 11-million-unit range; now, it's just over 14 million, a 22% increase. Also last June, many of the Japanese automakers saw sales swoon, as inventories dried up following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Not surprisingly, those manufacturers -- whose sales have now bounced back -- recorded outsized year-over-year percentage increases from their artificially depressed year-ago levels. What is surprising is that the U.S. and the Korean automakers, who enjoyed a bit of a boost last year thanks to hobbled Japanese competitors, also posted year-over-year increases. For the domestic automakers, though, it was fleet sales that at least partially underpinned the good news (accounting for roughly one-third of total volumes). Still, it looks like this could be a summer of love for the auto industry, certainly its best since the halcyon days of 2007.
JUNE 2012 SALES RESULTS, AND PERCENT CHANGE VERSUS JUNE 2011.
GENERAL MOTORS +16%
General Motors recorded another good year-over-year increase in June, especially given the artificially boosted sales of June 2011. Unlike last month, this time all four GM divisions were in the plus column.
Perhaps aided by lower gas prices, trucks did well, particularly the Suburban (+53%), the Traverse (+41%), the big vans (+40%), and the Colorado (+37%). On the car side, the Sonic is far outselling the Aveo and the Malibu had another 30k-plus month (benefitting from fleet sales, perhaps?), but the Cruze (-24%) declined.
Unsurprisingly, GMC's results largely paralleled those at Chevrolet, with the biggest gains coming from the Acadia (+56%) and the Yukon XL (+52%), while the big pickups were up only slightly.
Increases for the LaCrosse (+21%) and the Enclave (+30%), combined with the addition of the Verano (4091 units) more than made up for the loss of the Lucerne and a drop in Regal sales (-34%).
Cadillac finally had a reversal of fortune in May, and it was only partially due to the arrival of the XTS. The CTS (+20%) also helped out, as did the SRX (+8%), and the Escalades as well, although to a lesser extent.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY +7%
Ford was able to top its year-ago figures, but the increase was less than at GM or Chrysler. Ford's 7% increase translated into a loss of market share, although it was enough to remain in the number two spot ahead of Toyota.
As was the case last month, trucks led the charge at Ford. The F-series (+11%) topped 50,000 units, and Ford continues to be successful selling down the outgoing Escape (+28%). Looking at the cars, the Fusion had another good month (+17%) and, for a change, so did the Taurus (+25%). Small cars, like the Fiesta (-17%) and the Focus (-1%), were less impressive.
Lincoln joined Ford division in positive territory, despite the loss of some 900 Town Car sales. Credit the MKZ (+33%), the MKT (+77%), and the MKX (+9%).
TOYOTA MOTOR SALES +60%
Once again in June, we see a huge year-over-year percentage increase for Toyota, mostly because a year ago was so bad.
Camry sales were up by half, but the total wasn't nearly as good as May, even though it was -- just barely -- good enough for the Camry to remain the bestselling passenger car. Similarly, the Corolla/Matrix (+41%) posted big numbers, but not as big as last month. You can't argue with the Prius, though, particularly the decision to expand the lineup to three models, as sales were more than four times the depressed levels of a year ago.
The new GS is doing well, as is the ES (+75%) and the RX (+68%). The HS is not missed, as the CT has more than picked up the slack.
Toyota's smallest division enjoyed the biggest sales increase, as the FR-S roared onto the scene and immediately became the biggest-selling Scion. The iQ kicked in another 702 units, and the other three Scions were up as well.