July was another torrid month of new-car sales, even if it was not quite as hot as June. The annualized sales rate receded a bit from nearly 16 million to just under 15.5 million units -- still much better than last year. In 2012, July was a bit of a trough, so the year-over-year comparisons look particularly rosy (the industry as a whole was up 14%). Of the big six carmakers, GM, Toyota, and Honda saw the biggest gains. The latter two were large enough to reorder the positions of the top carmakers. Toyota nudged ahead of Ford, and Honda passed Chrysler. Even so, all manufacturers were ahead of last year. Pickup trucks continue to power ahead, but fuel-efficient subcompacts also did well. Incentives were up slightly, as the 2013 model year winds down and carmakers begin to clear out inventory. The better news is that carmakers -- even the domestics -- did not lean heavily on fleet sales, which were a smaller percentage of the total than they have been in recent months.
JULY 2013 SALES RESULTS, AND PERCENT CHANGE VERSUS JULY 2012.
GENERAL MOTORS +16%
GM’s improving sales outlook was just about picture-perfect in July. All four divisions were up by double digits, and the company claimed that retail deliveries galloped ahead by 23%, while fleet sales declined. It wasn’t all trucks either, as the jump in passenger-car sales was actually greater than that for trucks.
Buick swung from negative to positive in July, mostly due to the addition of the Encore. The Enclave, now the brand’s bestselling model, was also up. All three sedans declined, however.
Once again, the ATS and the XTS have stepped in to push Cadillac ahead, despite a model-changeover drop for the CTS.
After a huge June, when it was the bestselling domestic passenger car, the Cruze fell back to earth in July, though was still looking good (+70%) compared to a year ago. The new Impala (+38%) is taking off, and outsold the stagnant Malibu (+1%). Volume of the tiny Spark more than doubled (+164%) but the Sonic and Volt declined slightly. The Silverado soared (+45%), and big utilities did well too, paced by the Suburban (+39%).
Any month that sees full-size pickup volume increase by 51% (retail) is going to be a good month for GMC. The majority of big pickup sales, however, were still the old 2013 models, which carried substantial incentives.
TOYOTA MOTOR SALES +17%
Toyota squeaked by Ford Motor Company to retake second place among major manufacturers. Lexus is recovering nicely but Scion remains a problem child.
The Camry couldn’t quite match last month’s total but its 16% increase over last year was enough to retain the bestselling passenger car crown. The Corolla/Matrix (+4%) looks like it is about to be overtaken by the surging, expanded Prius line (+40%). The new Avalon is doing better than twice its previous volume. On the truck side, the Tacoma (+22%) enjoyed a bigger surge than the Tundra (+7%), while the RAV4 (+28%) continues to do well.
The new IS (+59%) finally started arriving in volume this month, but it still couldn’t match the increase posted by the new ES (+62%). Add in the RX (+15%) and you have the three biggest-volume cars pushing the brand ahead despite mixed results elsewhere in the lineup.
It was another down month for Scion in July, with all models declining.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY +11%
Ford lagged the industry slightly, and paid the price by losing its #2 spot to Toyota. Ford claimed to be capacity constrained with some models, such as the Escape, and is also readying its Flat Rock, Michigan plant to build more Fusions.
The F-series again topped 60,000 units in a single month (+23%), although that was down somewhat from May and June. The F-Series is in no danger of losing its title as the bestselling pickup (or bestselling vehicle) but the Escape (+4%) can no longer claim to be the bestselling SUV, falling behind the Honda CR-V. The tiny Fiesta (+89%) was a big mover on the car side, but the Focus (+2%) was stagnant and the Fusion (-12%) fell
Lincoln just muddled along again in July. The MKZ was down slightly (-7%), and the MKT was down lots (-41%); the MKS, MKX, and Navigator all gained.