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July 2013 Auto Sales

Joe Loriowriter

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.


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 +14%
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.

Cadillac +17%
Once again, the ATS and the XTS have stepped in to push Cadillac ahead, despite a model-changeover drop for the CTS.

Chevrolet +17%
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%).

GMC +14%
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 squeaked by Ford Motor Company to retake second place among major manufacturers. Lexus is recovering nicely but Scion remains a problem child.

Toyota +17%
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.

Lexus +26%
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.

Scion -9%
It was another down month for Scion in July, with all models declining.

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.

Ford +14%
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 -1%
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.

Acura switched from negative to positive, but it was the solid performance of Honda's big-volume cars that gave Honda its industry-beating increase and pushed it past Chrysler to become the fourth-place manufacturer.

Honda +21%
The Civic (+30%) passed the Accord (+10%) to become America's number-two passenger car behind the Toyota Camry. The CR-V is also on a tear, up by a third over its impressive year-ago total; it stole the bestselling SUV crown from the Ford Escape. We wouldn't have expected the hot pickup market to reach the Ridgeline, but it did, as that model was up 68%. The only Honda sitting out the good times was the Crosstour (-23%).

Acura +18%
The new ILX scratched out only a 5% gain, and the new RLX just climbed over the 600-unit mark, while the TL and TSX were both down. But never mind passenger cars—the MDX and RDX are hot, up 30% and 48%, respectively.

Chrysler fell behind Honda, but the automaker is still on a positive track. For the past three-and-a-half years, Chrysler has beaten its previous-year sales total every single month.

Chrysler -4%
Chrysler's three models continue to teeter-totter. The 200 and Town & Country were up in June, then down in July. The 300 was down in June, and up in July.

Dodge +18%
The addition of the Dart is doing good things for Dodge—aided this month by a surprising jump for the Durango (+88%), and tempered by a decline for the Charger (-19%).

Jeep +2%
The brand's overall total is unimpressive but the individual models were all up by double digits. So what gives? Blame the loss of the Liberty, with its replacement, the new Cherokee, still a couple months off.

Ram +32%
With a big jump in July, the big Ram pickup topped 30,000 units.

Fiat +2%
The 500L enjoyed its first full month in showrooms, but hasn't done much for Fiat's total as yet.

The Koreans lagged the industry overall, but they're coming off a strong performance last year, and they're also claiming tight supplies of popular models.

Hyundai +6%
The new Santa Fe (+48%) was up by nearly half; the Elantra (+29%) was the brand's other star performer. The Sonata (-10%) was down, in the face of newer competition.

Kia +2%
The new Cadenza was up 60% over last month. It and the Forte (+17%) helped overcome declines for the Sportage (-30%), the Rio (-17%), and the Sedona (-10%).

Nissan would have outpaced the industry in July had it not been for weakness at Infiniti.

Nissan +17%
The Leaf's price cut continues to electrify sales, which leapt more than fourfold over last year. The new Pathfinder, meanwhile, merely tripled its previous total. Other good news for Nissan came in the form of the NV van (+44%), the Rogue (+29%), the Juke and the Versa (both +21%), and the Altima (+11%). In the debit column, we note the Armada (-19%), the Maxima (-21%), the Quest (-23%), the Cube (-31%), the Xterra (-34%), and the Titan (-42%).

Infiniti -33%
Sales of the G fell by more than half, as dealers await its replacement, the Q50. Unfortunately, all other Infiniti models also were down, with the lone exception of the JX/QX60 (+37%).

July was a near repeat of June for the Volkswagen Group, with VW down slightly but increases elsewhere putting the group just ahead of last year.

Volkswagen -3%
The Beetle enjoyed a big bounce (+85%) and the Passat plodded ahead (+12%) but otherwise there were a lot of negative numbers in VW's July report. The worst offenders won't surprise you: the Routan (-86%), the CC (-52%), and the Eos (-37%).

Audi +12%
Audi's big winners were its two SUVs, the Q5 (+52%) and the Q7 (+49%). Everything else was either flat or up slightly.

Porsche +36%
The new Cayman continues to outsell the Panamera (-22%), which was the only Porsche model to decline. Meanwhile, the Cayenne (+40%) is running at nearly double the volume of the next-best-selling model, the 911.

Bentley +20%

Unstoppable Subaru once again posted the biggest gain among all carmakers. The new Forester is, predictably, enjoying big gains (+53%) but the bigger factor is the arrival of the XV Crosstrek. The not-so-new Impreza (+29%) and Outback (+13%) didn't do so bad either.

The BMW Group was able to stay ahead of Daimler-Benz in July, although BMW division was outsold by Mercedes-Benz.

BMW +13%
The X1 outsold the X3 (-9%) but not the X5 (+17%); meanwhile, the X6 (-18%) is slipping toward irrelevancy. The 3-series actually was the bigger story (+29%) for BMW, although the 1-series enjoyed a larger year-over-year gain (+61%). The 6-series dropped back (-43%) after surging last month.

Mini +2%
The Countryman (+9%) dragged the division into the black, in the face of a small decline for the other Minis.

Rolls-Royce +6%

Mercedes-Benz brand beat BMW in July, but it needed the help of the Sprinter vans to do it.

Mercedes-Benz +19%
The mainstay C-class (+34%) and M-class (+73%) did the most to power Mercedes ahead in July, with the GLK (+48%) and the E-class (+10%) in supporting roles.

Smart +10%
The Smart seesaw was up in July.

MAZDA +13%
The new Mazda6 is approaching triple the volume of the old car, and the CX-5 is running well ahead of last year (+86%). The rest of the lineup saw no big swings either way.

A largely status-quo month for Volvo saw the S80 suffer the biggest drop (-37%) while the S60 enjoyed the biggest gain (+20%).


Jaguar +60%
About half of Jaguar's increase was due to the arrival of the F-type. The rest came from increases for the existing models, particularly the sedans, with help in Northern states from their new all-wheel-drive options.

Land Rover +22%
The new Range Rover more than doubled, and the Evoque was up by half. That easily erased a decline for the Range Rover Sport, whose replacement should be arriving soon.

Mitsubishi looks better in July than it has recently, as its year-ago figures had only a handful of sales for the departed Eclipse, Endeavor, and Galant. Suddenly, the increases for the Outlander Sport (+42%), the Lancer (+26%), and the Outlander (which doubled) have a lot more impact.

1. Ford F-series 60,449
2. Chevrolet Silverado 42,080
3. Toyota Camry 34,780
4. Honda Civic 32,416
5. Honda Accord 31,507
6. Dodge Ram 31,314
7. Nissan Altima 29,534
8. Honda CR-V 27,226
9. Chevrolet Cruze 25,447
10. Toyota Corolla/Matrix 24,463