Sorry for the late report due to vacation, but here is the June 2014 wrap-up on national sales. U.S. light-vehicle sales, led by Chrysler Group, Nissan Motor Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp., rose 1 percent last month, exceeding many projections and helping the auto industry end the first half of 2014 on an unexpected upswing.
The annualized sales rate surged to 17 million, easily topping forecasts, from 15.9 million a year earlier and just above May’s 16.8 million rate. It is the fourth consecutive month the annualized sales rate has topped 16 million and first time the sales rate has hit the 17 million threshold since July 2006.
June car sales fell 1 percent in the overall U.S. market while light-truck demand rose 4 percent.
Most analysts expected June car and light-truck demand to taper off after the industry’s strong showing in May, but June’s results all but erased memories of the year’s sluggish start for many automakers.
Across the industry, June sales were helped by “a combination of strong retail sales in the last week of the month and fleet deliveries,” Wells Fargo analyst David Lim wrote in a report.
GM, rocked by a recall crisis for months, said June deliveries rose 1 percent, with retail deliveries advancing 1 percent and fleet volume up 2 percent. It was the fourth consecutive monthly gain for GM and another sign the automaker is weathering the recall of 25.7 million vehicles in the United States so far this year.
Sales rose 11 percent at GMC and 18 percent at Buick while volume was flat at Cadillac and slipped 3 percent at Chevrolet — the brand with the greatest exposure to the company’s recall fallout.
GM said its car volume slid 10 percent, crossover shipments edged up 3 percent and truck and SUV deliveries jumped 13 percent in June.
At Toyota Motor Sales, combined Toyota, Scion and Lexus volume increased 3 percent to 201,714 units last month.
American Honda’s deliveries dropped 6 percent to 129,023 in June — its fourth decline out of the last six months. Sales at the Honda brand fell 4 percent on a 13 percent decline in light truck deliveries while Acura volume dropped 19 percent.
At Ford, volume slipped 6 percent on a 6 percent decline at the Ford division and 3 percent drop in Lincoln volume. Ford said its retail sales dropped 5 percent and fleet shipments declined 7 percent. The company’s U.S. deliveries have now dropped in four of the last six months.
Mazda reported its best June sales in 10 years with volume up 17 percent to 26,208 vehicles. The gains were driven by its core models, with CX-5 compact crossover sales growing 16 percent to 7,943 units, Mazda6 mid-sized sedan volume up 25 percent to 4,793 units and its top-selling Mazda3 compact up 17 percent to 8,824 units. Through June, Mazda sales have climbed 8 percent to 156,431 vehicles.
Subaru’s sales streak continued last month with volume up 5 percent to 41,367 units — its best June ever. It was the brand’s smallest gain on a percentage basis since volume slipped 15 percent in Nov. 2011.
Strong demand for the Jeep line and other trucks helped Chrysler Group to its 51st consecutive monthly U.S. sales gain in June. Chrysler Group’s June sales rose 9 percent, with Jeep volume climbing 28 percent and Ram brand volume up 14 percent.
Sales rose 11 percent at Fiat and 1 percent at Dodge, but volume slipped 12 percent at the Chrysler brand, the company said.
Overall, Chrysler Group’s light-truck deliveries rose 22 percent while car volume, a weak spot for the company in recent months, slipped 19 percent. Dodge Durango volume rose 9 percent and Chrysler Group’s minivan deliveries rose by more than 20 percent in June.
Ram pickup sales climbed 12 percent in June to 33,149 units, helped by incentives, according to several analysts. It was the best June for Ram pickup volume in 10 years, Chrysler said.
Chrysler Group’s overall sales have climbed 12 percent year-to-date, with Jeep volume up 45 percent, largely on demand for the new Cherokee.
At Kia, June sales edged up to 50,644 units. Hyundai’s deliveries rose 4 percent to 67,407 units in June, with Sonata volume hitting a monthly record of 23,672.
The Volkswagen brand’s U.S. sales slump continued with volume falling 22 percent to 28,827 units.
U.S. light-vehicle sales were forecast to dip 2.6 percent to 1.37 million in June, based on the average of 10 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
In June 2013, industry sales also benefited from one additional weekend of selling, some analysts noted.
After a weak start to the year because of severe winter weather, healthy economic fundamentals — notably low interest rates, a favorable credit environment and rising employment — have fueled the 4 percent gain in U.S. light-vehicle sales gains through June
The U.S. auto industry remains on track to top the 16 million sales mark this year for the first time since 2007.
The average U.S. transaction price for light vehicles was $30,575 in June, down $245, or 0.8 percent, from June 2013, and down $689, or off 2.2 percent, from May 2014, TrueCar Inc. said.
“We’re encouraged to see continued strength in retail sales while transaction prices and incentives have remained steady,” John Krafcik, President of TrueCar, said in a statement. “Despite PR challenges, among full-line automakers GM now owns the highest transaction prices in the industry at nearly $35,000 — a tribute to the strength of their new models and incentive spending discipline.”