Ford Motor said retail sales in the U.S. last month slipped 1 percent to 159,492 light vehicles. The company's U.S. sales have now declined every month this year but one, May.
At GM, sales dropped 15 percent at Chevrolet, 31 percent at Buick, 7.3 percent at GMC and 22 percent at Cadillac. GM's retail volume -- which has remained strong in recent months -- fell 14 percent to 202,220 in July.
GM said it slashed July sales to rental car customers in the U.S. by 80 percent compared with a year ago, to just over 2,700 vehicles, while increasing shipments to commercial fleets. U.S. commercial vehicle fleet deliveries rose by 40 percent in July to 17,300 vehicles, GM said, noting commercial sales can be as profitable as retail volume.
Fleet deliveries accounted for about 11 percent of total July volume, GM said.
The company's average transaction price in the U.S. rose nearly $1,000 to about $36,000 last month compared with July 2016.
“We have strategically decided to reduce car production rather than increase incentive spending or dump vehicles into daily rental fleets, like some of our competitors,” Kurt McNeil, GM's head of U.S. sales operations, said in a statement. “We are working hard to protect the residual values of our new products and growing quality retail and commercial sales, and July’s ATPs reflect that discipline.”
Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.'s monthly gain -- only its second of the year -- reflected increases of 4.3 percent at the Toyota brand and 3.6 percent at Lexus.
At Nissan North America, volume dropped 4.1 percent at the Nissan brand and Infiniti volume rose 9 percent. July is only the second month this year that Nissan's U.S. deliveries have declined as the company continues to gain share in a down market.
FCA US' July sales fell behind a 6 percent decline in retail volume and 35 percent reduction in fleet business. Ram and Alfa Romeo were the only two FCA brands to post higher sales last month, with volume off 12 percent at Jeep, 30 percent at the Chrysler brand and 12 percent at Dodge.
Volume dropped 1.7 percent at the Honda brand and rose 3.7 percent at Acura. Overall, American Honda truck sales slipped 4.2 percent and car deliveries edged up 1.9 percent.
Among other automakers, July volume dropped 5.9 percent at Kia, 5.8 percent at the Volkswagen brand and 3 percent at Mazda. Deliveries rose 6.9 percent at Subaru and 1.7 percent at Mitsubishi.
In addition to Lexus and Infiniti, other luxury brands with July gains were Audi, up 2.5 percent, and Porsche, up 0.6 percent. Volume dropped 15 percent at the BMW brand, 10 percent at Mercedes, 19 percent at Volvo, 7 percent at Jaguar and 2.6 percent at Range Rover.
Analysts say sales in the second half of the year will pivot on additional incentive spending and production.
“Through the first six months of the year, the SAAR has averaged just 16.9 million units, below the 17.2-million-unit pace of the first half of 2016," said Christopher Hopson, manager of North America light-vehicle forecasting for IHS Markit. "We expect some rebound from the sales pace in the first half of the year, but overall light vehicle demand does seem to be stuck in neutral."
Hopson said IHS Markit has cut its forecast for industrywide U.S. sales in 2017 to 17.1 million from 17.3 million units.
J.D. Power says incentives averaged $3,876 per new vehicle in the first two weeks of July, a high for the month and an increase of 7.8 percent from the previous July record set in 2016.
ALG estimates new-vehicle incentives in the U.S. averaged $3,565 last month, or 4.7 percent higher than July 2016. GM, FCA, Ford and Nissan were the biggest spenders on discounts last month, ALG found. (See chart below.)