July Car Sales to Be Flat, VW to Jump

Despite worries that strong car sales in the United States cannot continue, experts expect that July sales have been strong. Helping to lead the way, once embattled Volkswagen had a good month.

Overall, U.S. car and light vehicles sales are expected to be up by 0.5% to 1,380,000 compared to July of last year, according to Cox Automotive. That puts the annual pace at 16.6 million, which would be another solid year for the industry.

Several car companies, all of them modest-sized, are expected to do well. VW’s sales are forecast to rise by 2.3% to 55,000. It was only four years ago when VW was close to exiting the U.S. market because of a diesel engine mileage scandal. Sales of Hyundai Kia are expected to rise by 4.9% to 110,000. Its cars have gotten particularly strong reviews from major research firms like J.D. Power over the past year. Sales of Subaru as expected to rise 2.6% to 61,000. The relatively small Japanese car company continues a string of positive sale months that goes backs over two years.

Some of the largest car companies are expected to suffer the most, with the exception of the biggest company in the market. General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM) sales are expected to rise 3.0% to 225,000. The trouble at Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) is expected to continue. Its sales in July are expected to slide 1.4% to 190,000. As a sign of Ford’s trouble, the sales of Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) are expected to best it at 205,000, down 1.8%. It is rare that Ford gives up the second spot in U.S. car sales.

In the middle of the market, in terms of sales, FCA Group’s sales are projected to fall 0.6% to 170,000. The company is known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU) in the United States. American Honda sales are expected to fall 2.6% to 135,000.

If car sales are a major barometer of the American economy, then the economy remains in good shape. And, if the Federal Reserve cuts rates, car loan costs probably will drop as well. July’s pattern may hold true for the balance of the year.

Cox Automotive July 2019 Forecast

Brand Sales YOY Change Market Share
GM 225,000 3.00% 16.30%
Ford 190,000 −1.40% 13.80%
Toyota 205,000 −1.80% 14.90%
FCA 170,000 −0.60% 12.30%
American Honda 135,000 −2.60% 9.80%
Nissan 110,000 1.10% 8.00%
Hyundai Kia 110,000 4.90% 8.00%
Volkswagen 55,000 2.30% 4.00%
Subaru 61,000 2.60% 4.40%
Grand Total 1,380,000 0.50%

Note: Grand total includes brands not shown.