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.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY +13%
Ford’s sales slightly lagged the overall industry’s June-versus-June increase, but the company is still doing well. Ford continues to extend its sales lead over Toyota–at the six-month mark last year, Ford was ahead by 2795 units; this year, Ford is up by 134,810. Still, Ford will soon lose Volvo from its total, and it will later lose Mercury as well (although Ford’s leaders no doubt hope to push Mercury buyers into Fords or, preferably, Lincolns).
Like GM and Chrysler, Ford enjoyed a hefty helping of fleet sales this month, which may be reflected in a tripling of Taurus volume and a 20% increase for the Focus. Mostly, however, Ford was a huge beneficiary of a continued positive move in big pickup sales. F-series volume jumped by more than 10,000 units, accounting for half of the entire company’s sales increase over 2009.
On a year-over-year percentage-increase basis, Mercury was actually the best-performing brand in Ford’s portfolio in June — the month its death notice was delivered. The Mariner and the Grand Marquis were the major factors, but the Grand Marquis was already set to expire soon anyway.
Lincoln’s sales decline was indicative of the challenge presented by Ford’s luxury brand. Only the Navigator managed a tiny increase, and the addition of the MKT did little to offset slipping sales of the other models.
The missing S60 accounted for half of Volvo’s loss. With a new version about to return to the lineup, Volvo should perform better for its new owner.
TOYOTA MOTOR SALES +7%
Toyota’s sales gain over last year was half that of the industry overall. While Toyota is not coming off year-ago sales that were as depressed as the domestics, this is still a disappointing performance. Like last month, Toyota might have been suffering in June with a bit of a hangover from its heavy incentive spending earlier this spring.
Toyota car sales actually were down; it was the truck side that carried the day. The RAV4 was up 25%, and the Tundra caught a ride on the big-pickup wave, as sales swelled by nearly half. The biggest percentage gainers, though, were the two redesigned models: the Sienna (+72%) and the 4Runner (+232%).
Again, trucks drove the increase, especially the redesigned GX (which doubled), with an assist from the RX. On the car side, both volume models, the ES and the IS, were down, and the addition of the HS (at only 603 units) wasn’t enough to compensate.
With no new product, Scion continues its string of down sales months.
AMERICAN HONDA +6%
Honda, like Toyota, was not able to match the industry’s overall sales increase for June. However, Honda, like Toyota, wasn’t quite as bad off as most automakers a year ago, so that’s a mitigating factor. Also, Honda’s totals are not padded with a fat layer of fleet sales. Still, Honda didn’t do as well in June as it did in May.
The surging MDX (+64%) accounted for more than half of Acura’s increase. The RDX and TSX helped, too. The TL declined, and the RL continues to languish in obscurity. The ZDX, with 265 units sold, is outselling the RL (at 163), but that’s about it.
Strong Accord sales and a resurgent Civic received an assist from the CR-V, but much of that success was negated by the slumping Odyssey (-37%), which is in the final year before a redesign and appears to be suffering at the hands of the new Toyota Sienna.
CHRYSLER LLC +35%
Chrysler’s headline number certainly impresses. It’s the best sales gain of any of the top twelve automakers, and it’s also better than May’s year-over-year percent increase. But it’s important to remember that Chrysler was flat on its back in 2009, and that a major chunk of today’s volume is going to fleets.
To see Sebring volumes more than double is to see a fleet sale affect at work. We’re somewhat less suspicious of the more modest gains for the Town & Country (+34%) and the 300 (+13%).
If the Sebring is getting a fleet boost, what is there to say about the Avenger (+177%) or the Charger (+144%)? The Challenger also more than doubled, and the Grand Caravan was up by nearly half.
Grand Cherokee sales were down just ahead of the new version’s arrival, but the Wrangler (now solidly Jeep’s bestseller) more than made up for it with an 86% jump.
The full-size Ram pickup didn’t participate in the big-pickup bounce to the same degree as its competitors, increasing by slightly less than 10% in June. The Dakota was up by more than half, but on much lower volumes.
White-hot Hyundai doubled the industry average increase for June, gobbling up more market share in the process. The Koreans’ 28% gain exactly matched their percent increase last month, so there’s no summer slowdown here.
Big jumps for the new Sonata (+49%) and the new Tucson (+207%) were perhaps to be expected, but why should the Elantra more than double? Perhaps it’s stealing sales from the Accent, which fell by 43%.
It’s boom and bust for Kia. The new Sorento, at better than four times last year sales, is definitely boom. So too, is the Sedona (+85%) and, inexplicably, the Borrego (+332%). On the bust side, we have the Sportage (-77% ahead of a redesign) and, flat busted, the Rondo, with only 196 sold.
NISSAN NORTH AMERICA +11%
After a strong May, Nissan fell back in June, and in so doing was passed by Hyundai-Kia.
Infiniti sold exactly 2000 more cars this June than last. Every Infiniti model contributed at least somewhat to that total, but none more so than the G (up by 1044 units).
On the car side, the only Nissan to outperform the market was the Versa (+24%). Trucks were a somewhat happier story despite the loss of the Quest, with positive numbers all around, including the Rogue (+17%), the Frontier (+43%), the Xterra (+56%), the Titan (+24%), and the Armada (+116%).
VOLKSWAGEN OF AMERICA +12%
The A5/S5 more than doubled and the Q5 was up by nearly half, which together helped Audi significantly outperform Volkswagen, at least on a percentage increase basis.
VW lagged the market slightly due to falling sales for the Jetta (ahead of a redesign) and the Routan minivan. The increased overall volume came from the CC (which doubled), the Rabbit/GTI (which more than doubled), and the Tiguan (up 85%).
BMW GROUP +12%
The BMW Group’s 12% increase over year-ago sales wasn’t quite as good as the industry average, but it was a damned sight better than last month’s negative figure and was enough to put BMW’s sales total ahead of Subaru’s and Mazda’s for the month.
The new 5-series has arrived, and the model’s 40% upswing accounted for roughly half of the brand’s total volume gain. The rest came from the X5 (+44%) and the 7-series, which more than doubled.
With its new models (Countryman, Coupe, and Roadster) still a ways off, Mini was lucky to pull out even a 1% increase.
Twenty-six Rollers left dealer lots in June, versus twenty-seven last June.
Another month, another sales and market share increase for Subaru. Not as big a gain as May’s, but still. And remember, Subaru is coming off a very good 2009. The Forester is still gaining ground, but the Legacy is essentially flat and the Impreza slipped a bit. Not to worry, however, as the new Outback is on a tear (+76%).
DAIMLER A.G. +20%
Mercedes’ June increase exactly matched Audi’s and outpaced BMW’s. The E-class (+75%) was the big driver, but the three-pointed star also got a push from the S-class (which doubled), the C-class (+21%), the GL (+50%), the SLK (+154%), and — ahem — the Sprinter van, which Mercedes has snatched back from Dodge.
Smart’s slump continues, and absent the return of $4-per-gallon gasoline, it’s hard to see what, in the short term, can reverse it.
It appears that 3 is Maybach’s magic number, as the ultra-luxe brand has sold exactly three cars in each of the last three months.
JAGUAR LAND ROVER +53%
Jaguar Land Rover had one of its best month’s in a long time. For Jaguar, the credit goes entirely to the long-awaited new XJ. For Land Rover, the LR4 and the Range Rover both contributed, while the Range Rover Sport took a breather.
Porsche takes the crown for the biggest percentage sales increase this month. Two-thirds of that is due to the addition of the Panamera (which was Porsche’s bestselling model in June). The rest came from the Cayenne, the 911, and, to a lesser extent, the Boxster. The Cayman was flat.
More bad news for Suzuki, as the addition of the Kizashi didn’t quite surmount declines for the SX4, the Equator, and the Grand Vitara.