DETROIT -- One year ago, sales in July set a record for the highest monthly volume in the 110-year history of the U.S. auto industry -- fueled by employee-pricing incentive programs at General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and the Chrysler group.
For the Big 3, that means this year, there's nowhere to go but down.
GM, Ford and Chrysler will see drops of at least 16 percent in July compared with a year ago, the equity research firm Credit Suisse predicts.
Analyst Christopher Ceraso expects the seasonally adjusted selling rate in July will be 17.4 million to 17.7 million units, up from June's 16.3 million rate.
GM sales will fall 16 to 18 percent, Ceraso says. He expects GM to have solid performance from its redesigned full-sized SUVs in an otherwise declining truck market.
Ford Motor sales will slide 25 to 27 percent. But Ceraso predicts strong sales from the Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln Zephyr sedans and expects the automaker's car sales to rise 1 to 3 percent.
The Chrysler group, the only Big 3 automaker that reinstated employee pricing this summer, will see a 22 to 24 percent dip. The decline will be attributable mainly to a falloff in truck sales. Sales of its car lineup will increase 3 to 5 percent, although Dodge Charger sales will slow, Ceraso says.
Toyota Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. will report double-digit increases from a year ago, Ceraso predicts. Those automakers did not join in on the employee-pricing bonanza.
Analyst David Healy of Burnham Securities Inc. questioned the validity of trying to compare current sales with last summer's incentive-bloated results. He isn't putting out a forecast for July.
Automakers will report their U.S. sales Tuesday, Aug. 1.
You may e-mail Greg Migliore at [email protected]