New-Car Sales Slip in July

By Luis Cabrera:

Two of the largest auto-makers in the country, Ford and GM, reported lower new-vehicle sales in July compared to the same month last year. It is not clear yet if this decrease in business for the two giant vehicle manufacturers means a weakening of the robust performance in the first half of 2012. Chrysler, the other member of the Detroit Three, reported gains for July in the year-earlier month comparison.

In the reports, it was indicated that July of 2012 had fewer selling-days than in 2011, and vice-president of GM’s U.S. Sales operations Kurt McNeil said the slowdown is also due to seasonal changes on fleet sales. However, the number one auto company’s retail numbers also showed a decrease.

The executive from GM had an optimistic approach. “We tend not to dwell too much on month to month comparisons” McNeil said, because figures “bounce around.”

The decline in fleet sales for General Motors was a staggering 41 percent, while retail vehicle sales fell 3 percent. GM’s combined sales were 6 percent less this past month compared to July of 2011.

Number two, Ford, reported an overall decrease of 4 percent in the same chart for July. Ford’s fleet sales were 16 percent slower this year in the past month, but their retail sales rose 2 percent. Ford recently discontinued the Ranger, and some of the soft fleet and truck sales figures were attributed to the phase-out of the light-duty truck.

The diminished business in fleet sales for the two competitors was largely responsible for the weaker numbers; wholesale of rentals and transportation vehicles account for more than 20 percent of their total revenue.

Furthermore, the two domestic auto makers reported slower retail truck sales in the last month.

In contrast, Chrysler posted a 13 percent overall increase for July. The company is the smallest of the three U.S. auto makers but their numbers have been very strong lately. Chrysler led the industry in the first half of the year, with an improvement of 30 percent in sales over the same period in 2011.

Analysts forecasted over 14 million vehicles sold in the U.S. for 2012, and the numbers of all auto makers combined indicate the momentum is still there. Up to June of this year there were 7.27 million total vehicles sold. If the pace keeps up, it would be the third-straight year of at least 10 percent improvement in the industry. The last time that happened was in 1973.

The Big Three’s Sales in July 2012

  • GM sold 201, 237  trucks and cars
  • Ford sold 173, 966  trucks and cars
  • Chrysler sold 126, 089 trucks and cars

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