In June, the market stunned General Motors with a roundhouse left to the teeth. GM's sales were down 12.1 percent from last year and, as a result, the U.S. total was off 2 percent.
In July, GM picked itself up from the canvas and delivered a few good punches of its own. Sales rose a scant 0.3 percent over last year, but GM sold 80,580 more new cars and light trucks in July than it did in June.
The U.S. market reflected GM's comeback. July sales of 1,556,332 were 2.9 percent higher than in 2003. For seven months, total sales of 9,968,911 were 2.3 percent ahead of last year.
In this report, all references to the Big 3 include only their North American brands.
The seasonally adjusted annual rate bounced up to 18.1 million, the highest this year. Only the most cockeyed optimist expects sales to continue at that pace, but the sixth straight 16 million-plus year clearly is in the offing. The seasonally adjusted annual rate is high because July was an excellent sales month this year (over 1.5 million). July is usually a so-so month.