DETROIT - General Motors, spurred by its program of employee discounts for everyone, is the runaway U.S. sales winner in June, several industry analysts say.
Estimates of GM's sales gain for the month range from 26 percent to more than 30 percent over June 2004.
GM's gain will be a loss for almost every other automaker. And some analysts, such as John Casesa at Merrill Lynch & Co., warn that June's success could make for a tough July, even if GM continues its incentive program.
Industry research firm Edmunds.com predicts GM will sell more than 475,000 vehicles in June. GM's monthly U.S. market share will exceed 30 percent for the first time since September 2004, when it had 31.5 percent, Edmunds estimates. In May, GM held 25.4 percent of the U.S. market.
"GM's promotion succeeded not only in generating showroom traffic by creating a sense of urgency for the consumers but also resulted in significant market share gain, which is exactly what GM and its dealers needed after several months of declines," says Jesse Toprak, senior analyst for Edmunds.com.
Late last week, GM marketing chief Mark LaNeve hinted that the sales program could be extended through July because of its success. A decision is expected this week.
U.S. vehicle sales will total more than 1.57 million units in June, an increase of 9.4 percent from June 2004, Edmunds.com predicts. With the additional sales day, the adjusted figure is 5.2 percent.
The sales surge also will help clear inventories, analyst Casesa says. He forecasts that GM's supply of vehicles will be about 5 percent below average by June 30.
Casesa expects Ford Motor Co. sales to rise about 5 percent in June from a year earlier, helped by the Ford Five Hundred sedan and Freestyle sport wagon. But GM's strength means that Ford likely will give up 1 percentage point of U.S. market share, Casesa says.
Edmunds.com foresees the Chrysler group selling 211,000 vehicles for the month and nabbing 13.4 percent of the U.S. market -- off from May's 14.3 percent -- despite the release of the much-anticipated Dodge Charger. But Christopher Ceraso of CSFB Research & Analytics expects Chrysler to post a sales gain of 3 to 5 percentage points.
Toyota Motor Corp. also appears to have suffered a U.S. market share hit, falling from 13.5 percent in May to 12.3 percent in June, according to Edmunds.com, which predicts Toyota sales of 193,000 vehicles.
David Healy of Burnham Securities still sees a solid monthly performance, forecasting a 15 percent year-over-year sales gain for Toyota.
American Honda Motor Co.'s chunk of the U.S. market likely fell to 7.7 percent for June from May's 8.2 percent, Edmunds.com says.
Edmunds.com sees one car company -- Nissan North America Inc. -- holding its own for the month. Nissan will maintain a market share of about 6.3 percent and sell more than 99,000 vehicles, Edmunds says.
Although GM has had a strong showing in June, analysts question whether the world's No. 1 automaker can maintain its momentum.
"I think they'll have a hell of a June," Healy says. "June will be great, but look out for July and August."