US Auto Sales Still Lagging, Carmakers Still Hopeful 

Automakers’ U.S. sales in June were down compared to sales in the same month a year ago, but it appears that the industry did just about manage to meet expectations. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales (SAAR) appears to be right around 17 million light vehicles (cars, sport utility vehicles and pickups) too, about where analysts expect it to close out the year. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis posted a December 2018 SAAR of 17.49 million, which had declined to 17.31 million May 2019.

Compared to the first six months of last year, new vehicle sales were down 2.3%, not including Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), which did not report sales Tuesday but waited until Wednesday. Ford’s year-over-year quarterly sales decline of 4.1% will not pull the monthly higher, however.

General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) reported second-quarter sales of 746,659 vehicles, a dip of 1.5% year over year, and year-to-date sales of 1.41 million, a decline of 4.2%. Both Ford and GM now report sales figures only on a quarterly basis, a practice that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU) will adopt going forward. Ford’s second-quarter sales totaled 650,336 vehicles.

FCA reported monthly sales up 2% year over year to 206,083 vehicles, including a 45% jump in Ram truck sales to 75,227 units and a year-over-year boost of 28%. Monthly U.S. sales of the company’s Alfa Romeo and Fiat brands dropped to 1,595 (down 29%) and 933 (down 35%), respectively. Why does FCA still think it’s worth the trouble to sell those cars in the United States?

Ford’s second-quarter truck sales jumped 7.5% to 324,243 units, and year-to-date sales are up 5.9% at 603,141 units. That’s the highest quarterly total in 15 years. But F-Series pickup sales sagged 1.3% for the quarter and are down 0.6% for the year. The all-new Ranger midsize pickup sold 20,880 units in the quarter, which brought total sales for the F-Series and Ranger to rough parity with second-quarter 2018 sales.

At GM, Silverado second-quarter sales were down 15.9% year over year for the company’s HD models and down 6.9% for the LD models. For the year to date, HD sales are down 20.2% and LD sales are down 9.4%. GMC Sierra HD sales were down 2.9% for the quarter and 14.2% for the year. Sierra LD sales fell 4.7% in the quarter and rose 0.5% for the year to date.

Jeep sales slipped 12% year over year in June and are down 8% for the year to date. FCA touted its all-new Jeep Gladiator midsize pickup, which posted June sales of 4,231 units and year-to-date sales of 7,252. Only the Jeep Grand Cherokee posted monthly and year-to-date sales gains, 11% and 13%, respectively.

Here are a few other year-to-date comparisons based on a report from Automotive News:

  • Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) reported sales of 1.15 million units, down 3.1% year over year.
  • Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (NYSE: HMC) posted a drop of 1.4% with sales of 776,995.
  • Nissan brand sales tumbled 7.7% to 708,525.
  • Subaru sales rose 5.2% to 339,525.
  • Volkswagen brand sales rose 6.8% to 31,725 units and, including sales of Porsche, Audi, Bentley and Lamborghini brands, VW Group saw an increase of 2.2% to 318,711 units.
  • Mercedes-Benz brand sales dropped 7% to 29,201 units.
  • BMW sales rose 2% to 31,627 vehicles.

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