The Big Three U.S. automakers posted double-digit increases in sales last month as consumers took advantage of readily available car loans in what may be the industry’s best July since 2006.
Both Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC posted 11 percent increases in their July sales, while General Motors Co. sold 16 percent more new vehicles than in July 2012.
Ford’s sales were boosted by its biggest and smallest vehicles. Sales of the Ford Fiesta subcompact car rose 89 percent to 7,667. Sales of Ford’s F-Series increased 23 percent as the Dearborn, Mich., automaker sold more than 60,000 pickup trucks.
Ford has sold more than 200,000 pickups in the past three months, said Ken Czubay, Ford’s vice president of U.S. marketing and sales, as customers who held onto their pickups during the recession continue to flood showrooms.
Czubay estimates that there are over 14 million pickups on the road that are 11 or more years old.
“Consumers are recognizing that it is the right time to get a pickup,” Czubay said. “We don’t anticipate that segment doing anything but slightly increasing as we approach the end of the year.”
The Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Cruze carried GM’s improved performance. Sales of the Silverado surged 45 percent to 42,080 units and Sierra sales rose 49 percent to 16,582 units as GM rolls out its redesigned 2014 trucks.
GM said 15 percent of its July full-size pickup sales were the redesigned 2014 versions. He said the roll-out of its new pickups is going better than expected, and that the company’s plan to gain some market share this year is on track.
All four brands contributed. Chevrolet sales rose 17 percent, GMC was up 14 percent, Cadillac increased 17 percent and Buick jumped 14 percent.
“As we look down the road we have even more new products are coming to all four brands,” said Kurt McNeil, GM’s vice president of U.S. sales operations. “With the strength we are seeing in household wealth we think there is definitely more room to grow this year.”
For Chrysler, it was the 40th consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains. The Auburn Hills, Mich., automaker’s results were led by a 31 percent increase for Ram trucks followed by 18 percent for Dodge, 2 percent for Jeep and 2 percent for Fiat. The Chrysler brand saw a 4 percent decline.
“We continue to see strong retail sales, particularly with our pickup trucks and SUVs,” Reid Bigland, head of Chrysler’s U.S. sales, said in a statement.
Other automakers reported similar July sales increases. Honda Motor Co. posted a 21 percent jump from a year earlier on the strength of its Civic compact and Accord midsize models. Toyota Motor Corp.’s U.S. sales rose about 17 percent, while Nissan Motor Co.’s were up 11 percent. Volkswagen AG’s U.S. sales fell 3.3 percent, but when luxury brand Audi is included, the German automaker’s sales were up 2.2 percent.
Total industry sales are expected to top 1.3 million in July, a 15 percent increase over the same month last year. That would translate into an annual rate of 15.8 million, a pace almost equal to June’s sales.
Taken together, the trends are leading to an industry that continues to get healthier with fleet sales declining and average transaction prices rising to about $28,824, according to J.D. Power.