Any way you slice it, July was a rotten month for the U.S. auto industry. And I mean exactly that: the U.S. auto industry -- the Detroit 3, General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group.
Two of the three sold fewer new vehicles in July than they did a year ago. GM was down 6 percent; Ford, 4 percent. Chrysler was up 13 percent, but that was less than one-half the 28 percent gain it reported for the year to date.
GM and Ford attributed some of the dip to a major decline in sales to fleet rental companies. Funny, I don’t recall the healthy gain in such sales getting credit for the substantial increases of earlier months.
Fleet sales are the whipping boy of auto sales reports. They are blamed when sales decline, but they are seldom, if ever, given credit when sales rise.
Market share blues
July sales came in at 1,153,759, the lowest total since February, but 9 percent higher than last year. The seasonally adjusted annual sales rate was 14.1 million, off a smidgen from 14.37 a month ago.
Year-to-date sale are significantly better than the July numbers -- 8,425,949 for seven months, 14 percent better than a year ago.
The July sales deficits hit GM and Ford squarely in the pocketbook -- the market share pocketbook, that is. Ford was down 2 percentage points at 15.0; GM gave up 2.9 points and had 17.4 percent of the month’s sales. Major beneficiaries were Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. and American Honda Motor Co. Honda gained 2.5 points to 10.1 percent; Toyota was up 2 points to 14.3.
Chrysler’s mediocre performance brought it 10.9 percent of the July market, up three-tenths of a percentage point.
56.9 pct. for imports
The mini-collapse of the Detroit 3 and a strong month for foreign-badged cars and trucks gave the imports 56.9 percent of the July market, which is unusually high. It was the fifth best month ever, trailing only 57.0 percent in March 2010, 57.3 percent in July 2008, 57.5 percent in January 2009 and the imports’ all-time peak of 59.2 percent in August 2009, when Asian and European brands fared especially well in cash for clunkers.
You remember 2009. That’s the year in which sales were in a free fall to 10.4 million, the lowest total since 1982.
Pacing the import surge in July were the resurgent American Honda, up 45 percent; and Toyota Motor Sales, up 26 percent, and the hard-charging Volkswagen Group of America, up 28 percent.
Did you notice which brand’s in second place in car-truck sales for July? Toyota.
The Japanese giant moved up by outselling Chevrolet, 139,759 to 138,942. Chevy still holds the runner-up spot in year-to-date deliveries. It is 58,002 sales ahead of Toyota.
Ford is so far ahead in year-to-date sales that you could almost say there is no second place. The score is: Ford, 1,264,928; Chevrolet, 1,100,604; Toyota, 1,042,602.