Toyota, Honda lead U.S. industry to 22 percent gainTue, 03 Jul 2012 00:00:00 -0700
U.S. light-vehicle sales, paced by Toyota and Honda, rose 22 percent in June as U.S. consumers continued to shake off economic jitters and replace aging cars and light trucks.
Automakers--also helped by falling gasoline prices and new models--sold 1.29 million cars and light vehicles last month. The seasonally adjusted annual sales rate rebounded from May's 13.8 million to hit 14.1 million, well above forecasts.
Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. continued to rebound strongly from last year's earthquake with sales gains of 60 percent and 49 percent, respectively.
"We expect to see continued stability in the automotive market during the second half of 2012 thanks to pent-up demand, low interest rates and a continued influx of new products," said Bob Carter, general manager of Toyota Motor Sales.
General Motors benefited from a 30 percent increase in crossover deliveries and rising fleet sales in recording its biggest gain in nine months--16 percent.
Nissan Motor Co. was up 28 percent and Chrysler Group rose 20 percent--its 13th straight month with a gain at least that high. At Ford Motor Co., June sales advanced 7 percent.
"The combination of new products, available credit, lower fuel prices and modest economic growth was a stronger influence on consumer behavior than economic and political uncertainty," said Kurt McNeil, vice president of U.S. sales for GM.
Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg expected light-vehicle sales in June to run at a 13.8 million seasonally adjusted annualized rate. Prior to May's dip, the 2012 annualized rate of sales had averaged 14.5 million through April. In June 2011, the annualized sales rate was 11.6 million.
Toyota said it sold 177,795 Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles in June. The 60 percent increase followed an 87 percent surge in May sales. Sales at the Toyota division jumped 55 percent.
Honda said its June sales jumped 49 percent. The Honda brand's three core products--Accord, Civic and CR-V--each posted sales gains of 50 percent or more.
Sales at the Honda division advanced 46 percent while Acura volume jumped 77 percent.
"With robust inventories and great customer demand, it feels good to be back in the race," said John Mendel, American Honda's head of sales.
Kia reported a 14 percent increase and corporate sibling Hyundai advanced 8 percent.
GM's 16 percent increase was the biggest since a 20 percent gain last September. The automaker's retail sales increased 8 percent and fleet deliveries rose 36 percent.
Cadillac bounces back
Sales at Chevrolet and GMC rose 15 percent while Cadillac posted its first gain in volume--12 percent--after eight straight monthly declines.
Ford said its car sales were flat, utility-vehicle demand jumped 25 percent and pickup volume edged up 1.2 percent. Sales at the Ford division climbed 7 percent, while Lincoln climbed 2.5 percent.
Chrysler reported a 20 percent increase in June sales, with volume at the Chrysler brand rising 63 percent and Jeep deliveries increasing 23 percent. Dodge--Chrysler's biggest division--posted a 2 percent gain.
Chrysler's car sales rose 42 percent; truck deliveries were up 12 percent.
It was the 27th consecutive month Chrysler has posted an increase in U.S. sales. The automaker's share of the U.S. market had climbed to 11.5 percent this year through May, up from 9.8 percent through May 2011.
"Continuous improvement remains a key focus at Chrysler as we have steadily increased sales, improved quality, added production and created jobs," Reid Bigland, head of the Dodge brand and U.S. sales operations for Chrysler, said in a statement.
Nissan said its sales rose 28 percent, with Infiniti surging 66 percent for a second straight month and the Nissan brand up 25 percent.
Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Subaru and Volkswagen Group were the only automakers to gain market share last month.
Subaru said its June sales advanced 40 percent after the earthquake disrupted stockpiles a year ago.
Among other automakers, Porsche said June sales climbed 18 percent and Volvo said demand was flat at 7,107 units.
At Volkswagen Group's VW brand, June sales jumped 34 percent; Audi deliveries rose 26 percent.
Jaguar Land Rover said June sales were up 2 percent after Jaguar fell 26 percent and Land Rover gained 14 percent.
The BMW Group reported June sales of 27,720 BMW and Mini vehicles, an increase of 3 percent over June 2011. BMW brand deliveries rose 0.4 percent.
"Demand is strong though we've been constrained by new model ramp up but supply will soon catch up in the second half of the year," Ludwig Willisch, CEO of BMW of North America, said in a statement.
Still on track
U.S. sales have advanced 15 percent this year through June to 7,272,096 units.
Toyota, Chrysler, VW Group and Daimler AG have gained share for the year, while GM, Ford, Hyundai-Kia, Nissan and BMW Group have lost ground. Honda's share has remained flat at 9.6 percent.
Despite mixed economic signals, analysts believe U.S. auto sales are on track to hit 14 million or more for the year--the best annual showing since 2007.
"Despite some headwinds, we see rising U.S. auto sales in the second half," S&P Capital equity analyst Efraim Levy said in a statement.
While lackluster employment growth, weak consumer spending and extremely hot weather across much of the country may have dampened demand in June, falling gasoline prices, easing credit terms and pent-up demand are aiding new car and truck sales.
The average car and light truck on the road today is nearly 11 years old, indicating consumers are holding onto vehicles longer. Kelley Blue Book says the average new-car shopper during the first quarter owned an 8-year-old vehicle with 85,328 miles.
Analysts and dealers say demand was soft early in June and picked up as the month progressed, aided by falling gas prices and incentives tied to July 4 holiday promotions.
TrueCar.com said industrywide incentives averaged $2,432 last month, up 1.5 percent compared with June 2011. Chrysler, General Motors and Nissan offered some of the highest discounts in June, while Hyundai/Kia, Toyota and Honda offered some of the lowest deals, TrueCar said.
By David Phillips- Automotive News