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.
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.
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.
CHRYSLER GROUP +20%
One year ago, when Chrysler recorded a 30% sales increase, we wondered: “how much of it is due to diminished competition [from hobbled Japanese brands] and how much is due to its own new and/or improved products.” A slew of double-digit sales increase later, it would seem that we have our answer — with the only caveat now being a supportive undercurrent of fleet sales.
Dodge didn’t do nearly as well as Chrysler this month, mostly because of churn in its lineup. The Caliber (-75%) is leaving but the Dart, with 202 sold, has barely poked its bumper into showrooms. The Nitro has also departed, but the Durango (-44%) just plain declined. So what was up? The Avenger (+68%), the Journey (+49%), the Challenger (+19%), and the Charger (+18%).
The Liberty (+50%) had Jeep’s biggest sales increase this month, but the Wrangler (+28%) and the Grand Cherokee (+39%) remain the brand’s biggest-volume models. The smallest Jeeps both slipped in June, the Compass (-15%) was down slightly more than its twin, the Patriot (-4%).
The big Ram pickup did well, but not as well as last month.
After cresting the 4000-unit mark in May for the first time ever, with 4003 cars sold, Fiat did one better in June — literally, one better, selling 4004 cars.
AMERICAN HONDA +49%
Again in June, Honda was able to increase its tsunami-depressed year-ago total by nearly half.
The Civic (+57%) couldn’t match last month’s big total, but it was nonetheless America’s bestselling small car. The Accord, meanwhile, nearly doubled its year-ago figure (+84%) but still managed only third place in the passenger-car derby. The smaller, fuel-sippers (Insight, Fit, and CR-Z) are all down, but Honda claims to have low inventories of those models, which are all imported and are not profitable at current exchange rates.
The new RDX tripled its prior-year figure. The new ILX chipped in another thousand or so units. Add big jumps for the TL (+47%), the TSX (+44%), and the MDX (+52%), and you hardly notice the fading ZDX (-39%).
As was the case in May, the Koreans were hard pressed to grind out a big percentage increase over their strong performance in 2011. But that doesn’t mean things were bad; both Hyundai and Kia claimed their best June sales ever.
The new Azera is easily trouncing its predecessor, and the Accent (+57%) continues to do well. The Elantra (-12%) is off, although Hyundai says that’s due to low inventory levels; that’s sedan only — the coupe and GT have yet to arrive. The only laggards are the SUVs, with the Santa Fe, Veracruz, and Tuscon all down.
NISSAN NORTH AMERICA +28%
Nissan wasn’t much affected by the disaster a year ago, although Infiniti was, and that’s reflected in the year-over-year percentage increases.
The redesigned sedan helped double sales of the Versa; and the new Quest doubled as well. There was lots of positive news among Nissan trucks and SUVs, from the diminutive Juke (+53%) and compact Rogue (+47%) to the big-boy Titan (+42%), the Armada (+28%), and the NV van (+70%). The Altima, which is undergoing a model changeover, was up slightly (+12%), but fell in behind not only the Camry and Accord but also the Malibu and the Fusion.
Infiniti’s June looked a lot like its May: sales edging into the five figures, up by two-thirds compared to the depressed, year-ago levels. The new JX has settled in as the brand’s second-bestselling model, behind the G (+39%). All other Infinitis were up, save the EX (-39%).
Mercedes’ gain wasn’t great but it was enough to easily outsell a stagnant BMW. The strangest component had to be the jump for the R-class (651 units, up from 75), but it’s not enough to save this model. The upswing for the new SL (+217%) was more expected, although that of the SLS (86 units, up from 18) was less so. Sales of the G-class have slowed to a trickle, but that model isn’t going anywhere. Falling demand for the GL (-25%) is also not so worrisome, with a new version set to arrive shortly.
Smart sales tripled, as the brand delivered more than 1000 cars for the first time in a long time.
Collectors continue to snap up the last remaining Maybachs, at a rate of 4 per month.
VOLKSWAGEN GROUP +32%
The Volkswagen Group enjoyed another big increase in June. Dr. Piech will not be denied!
The Passat had another 10,000-unit month, putting it not far behind the Jetta (13,604, or -21%). The Beetle was once again good for about 3000 units, which was a bit more than the Tiguan (+17%) but not as many as the Golf (+24%).
Two models were largely responsible for Audi’s growth: the new A6 and the not-at-all-new Q5 (+61%). The brand’s other volume offering, the A4, was essentially static (+3%). Suffering declines were the R8 (-28%), the Q7 (-18%), and the A7 (-16%).
BMW GROUP +3%
With BMW sales flat, it was left to Mini to push the group into positive territory, which it did but just barely. The BMW Group also pulled ahead of Subaru, by 50 cars.
Surprisingly, the 3-series (-26%) had another down month, while the 1-series (+17%) and the 5-series (+23%) increased. The new 6-series doubled year-ago volume, and the X5 (+27%) also did well.
The regular Minis were up 10% but the Countryman notched a 28% gain.
Like Toyota and Honda, Subaru was affected by supply problems last year. Thus, the brand’s 40% increase is compared to artificially low year-ago levels. All Subarus did better this year — even the Tribeca (+2%). Subaru also benefitted from the arrival of the BRZ, although not half as much as Scion benefitted from the FR-S.
The CX-5 has settled in behind the Mazda3 as the second most popular Mazda. The brand’s other SUVs all declined by 25% or more — the discontinued CX-7 and Tribute as well as the not-discontinued CX-9. The Mazda2 (-13%) and the Mazda5 (-39%) were both down, but the Miata (+30%) enjoyed a beginning-of-summer bounce.
Utility vehicles were the story in a fairly boring month for Volvo. Both the wagon-shaped XC70 (+22%) and the SUV-shaped XC60 (+21%) rang up gains, but the same spirit couldn’t help the aging XC90 (-27%).
Mitsubishi’s decline accelerated in June, as the Eclipse fades out. Even a doubling of Galant volume couldn’t help. Don’t look for salvation in the form of the battery-powered “i” car — its sales dropped from 85 in May to 33 in June.
JAGUAR LAND ROVER +2%
Land Rover +14%
Land Rover managed to sell a few more LR2s than last year, but the aging Range Rover and Range Rover Sport were down again. Thank heaven for the Evoque, the addition of which easily pushed the luxury SUV maker into the black.
Porsche had a much better month in June than in May, thanks to the arrival of the new Boxster and a strong performance by the 911 (+45%). Cayman buyers continue to sit on the sidelines, while sales of the Panamera and the Cayenne were flat.
Suzuki was able to keep it together in June, as a small increase for the SX4 mirrored a slightly smaller decline for the Kizashi.
TOP 10 BESTSELLING NAMEPLATES IN JUNE
1. Ford F-series 55,025
2. Chevrolet Silverado 33,566
3. Toyota Camry 32,107
4. Chevrolet Malibu 31,402
5. Honda Accord 28,924
6. Ford Escape 28,500
7. Honda Civic 27,500
8. Toyota Corolla/Matrix 26,647
9. Ford Fusion 24,433
10. Dodge Ram 23,951