General Motors was firmly in the driver's seat in the U.S. market in June, the only mainstream manufacturer except Hyundai and Kia to post an increase in sales last month compared with the year-ago period.
June sales overall were 5.3 percent behind the year-ago month, at 1.5 million, although GM managed an improvement of 0.7 percent. GM's share of the light-vehicle market improved to 29.6 percent for the month compared with 27.8 percent a year ago.
Paul Ballew, general director for global market and industry analysis for GM, said the company remains on pace to set an industry truck sales record for the year. "We are on the offensive, and we intend to continue on the offensive," he said in a Tuesday, July 2, conference call.
Total car sales were down 5.9 percent in June, while light-truck sales were off 4.7 percent. Light-vehicle sales were 8.4 million in the first half, down 3.2 percent from the year-ago period.
Ford Motor Co. sales were off sharply in June, down 14 percent, including all Ford-owned brands. DaimlerChrysler sales, including Mercedes, were down 7.2 percent,
June sales also were off for the three biggest Japanese companies. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. was down 4.3 percent in June, including Toyota Division and Lexus; American Honda Motor Co. Inc., down 1.9 percent, with Honda Division and Acura; Nissan North America, down 3.8 percent, with Nissan Division and Infiniti.
Still, the improvement in June sales, compared to May, means that the seasonally adjusted annual rate for the second quarter should be an estimated 16.4 million to 16.5 million light vehicles, compared with 6.2 million in the first quarter, said George Pipas, Ford's sales analysis and reporting manager.
Most luxury import brands continued to outshine the rest of the market. Cadillac sales were up 14.3 percent in June, Lexus sales gained 6.3 percent for the month, and Infiniti climbed 18.6 percent.
Among Ford's luxury brands, Jaguar and Land Rover both had record sales in June and for the first half of the year. Thanks to a redesigned Range Rover, Land Rover's U.S. sales shot up 65 percent for the month. So far this year, Land Rover sales were up 56 percent to 18,662. But Volvo and Lincoln were down sharply in June.
Mercedes-Benz USA Inc. and BMW of North America LLC also both had record first-half sales; however, Mercedes' sales were off 6.7 percent in June, and BMW-brand cars and light trucks were off 1.9 percent. Including 2,597 units for the new Mini, the BMW Group had record June sales.
"We are confident in the (luxury) segment," said Juergen Hubbert, a member of the DaimlerChrysler board of management who is responsible
for Mercedes-Benz, Maybach and smart cars. "The overall market is declining, and this segment is rising."