July sales up 14%; retail sales gaining

July sales up 14%; retail sales gaining

The sales news seems to get better every month, as just about every franchise posted big gains in July. Industry sales rose 14 percent from a year ago, and each of the Big Six automakers saw double digit sales gains. Ford and Chrysler each saw sales rise 11 percent, and General Motors jumped 16 percent. Toyota, whose sales soared 17 percent, edged past Ford to take the number two spot after GM. Ford said it would have done better if it werent constrained by production limits.

Honda had the most impressive monthly sales gain, at 20.9 percent, putting it in fourth place overall. Nissan was up 10.9 percent. Some of the smaller brands enjoyed large gains, too, with Mitsubishi up 24.7 percent, Mazda 29 percent and Subaru an astounding 42.9 percent. Mercedes was up 18.5 percent to post record monthly sales.

For dealers, some of the best news was the drop in fleet sales. About 86 percent of sales were retail, up from 83 percent a year earlier. Retail demand is not just steady, its improving, Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Alec Gutierrez told the Detroit News. Still, analysts expect fleet sales to rebound later in the year, perhaps as early as August.

Large pickups were the driving force behind Julys sales surge, helped by the housing rebound and the aging truck fleet. The segment was up 23 percent from last July. Sales of Fords F-series jumped 23 percent, and the Chevrolet Silverado, 45 percent.

Small cars also did well, as consumers eye fluctuating fuel prices and automakers prepare for more stringent fleet fuel economy standards. Ford Fiesta sales soared 89 percent.

Analysts cited as reasons for the sales gains the large number of new model offerings, longer loan terms, affordable lease deals, strong used-vehicle values and low interest rates. And consumers may be feeling more confident about the slowly recovering economy.

WANADAs Area Report on new vehicle sales through the second quarter should be out shortly.

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