Except for Toyota, major players' sales all fell in July, for different reasons.
GM and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles posted double-digit declines, driven largely by sharp cuts in fleet sales. Ford Motor Co., off 7.4 percent, and American Honda, 1.2 percent lower, were hampered by shortages of key models.
Nissan North America and Korean brands Hyundai and Kia boosted incentives to clear inventory, but with different results. Hyundai brand sales tumbled 30 percent, while Kia and Nissan posted smaller losses that outperformed the industry average.
Nissan's average incentive of $4,530, according to Autodata, was the highest among mainstream automakers, and Kia boosted its average spiff 42 percent to $3,865, helping Kia to outsell Hyundai for the third month in a row.
FCA US sales fell 10 percent after the company slashed fleet volume by more than a third. That's in line with a company effort to cut volume to bulk buyers, especially car-rental companies. Jeep had the biggest fleet cutback, down 82 percent.
GM's U.S. sales boss, Kurt McNeil, said the automaker would rather "strategically" cut production than boost incentives or "dump vehicles into daily rental fleets." In July, it slashed car-rental fleet volume 81 percent to just 1 percent of GM sales. GM also trimmed incentives 5.7 percent to $4,304 per vehicle, according to Autodata. But GM sales fell 15 percent and it still has a 104-day supply of inventory, well above the industry average.
Ford Motor and Honda were hit by product shortages. Ford said its retail sales fell 1 percent but fleet volume plunged 26 percent, in part because a recall of 402,000 Transit vans delayed shipments. Honda said it couldn't supply enough light trucks, although its car sales rose 2.7 percent.