Auto sales heat up in July on steep discounts
DETROIT — Big discounts helped auto sales heat up in July.
Toyota, Ford, Nissan and Chrysler all reported double-digit sales gains. General Motors' sales were up 9 percent compared with last July, while Hyundai's rose 1.5 percent. Of major automakers, only Honda and Volkswagen sales declined.
It was the best July for the industry since 2006. New vehicle sales rose 9 percent to 1.4 million, according to Autodata Corp.
Automakers typically offer deals in the summer to clear out inventory before cars from the new model year arrive in the fall. But July's discounts were unusually high.
Incentives rose 8 percent — or $216 per vehicle — over last July, according to Jesse Toprak, chief analyst for Cars.com. Incentives averaged $2,774 per vehicle, their highest level since August 2010. Toprak said Ford, Toyota, Volkswagen and Hyundai were the most generous; GM and Honda spent less.
Toyota was offering zero-percent financing on a five-year loan and $1,000 cash back on the Camry sedan. Ford offered $6,000 cash back on a new Expedition SUV. And Chrysler was peddling a $99-per-month, two-year lease on a Dodge Dart.
Edmunds.com said 13.5 percent of new car loans in July had zero-percent financing, the highest level since December 2010.
John Felice, Ford's U.S. sales chief, said a slowing rate of sales growth will force automakers to get even more aggressive to steal sales away from competitors. That's already happening with small and midsize cars. For instance, buyers are paying an average of $1,000 less for a Ford Fusion sedan than they did a year ago, Felice said.
But demand for SUVs and trucks remains strong, and so does pricing. Overall, Felice said, buyers are still paying $800 more per vehicle than they did last year. That's because even with discounting, more people are choosing pricier SUVs and loading them up with features.
Based on July's sales, J.D. Power and Associates raised its forecast for full-year U.S. sales to 16.3 million vehicles. That's approaching the peak of 17 million set in 2005.
Auto sales have led the uneven economic recovery, with sales increases of 1 million or more vehicles in each of the past four years. But that pace is slowing. U.S. sales totaled 15.6 million in 2013.
Chrysler saw the biggest gain in July, with sales up 20 percent to 140,102, led by the Ram pickup and the new Jeep Cherokee small SUV. Chrysler sold nearly 15,000 Cherokees, almost matching sales of the larger Grand Cherokee. Jeep sales rose 41 percent overall.
Toyota said its U.S. sales gained 12 percent to 215,802 on double-digit gains for the Camry and Corolla sedans and a 37 percent increase in sales of the newly redesigned RAV4.
Toyota edged out Ford, whose sales increased 10 percent to 204,373. The country's best-selling vehicle, the Ford F-Series pickup, was up 5 percent to 63,240, while Ford's new Transit Connect van was up 41 percent.
GM's sales rose 9 percent to 256,160 as strong demand for its new large SUVs outweighed lingering concerns about the automaker's recent string of recalls. Chevrolet Tahoe sales were up 51.5 percent.
Other automakers said:
• Honda's sales fell 4 percent to 135,908. Accord sedan sales rose 11 percent. Sales in the Acura luxury division fell 18 percent, however. Acura sold out of TL and TSX sedans as it launches their replacement, the new TLX. Honda also spent less on incentives than its rivals, according to Cars.com.
• Nissan sales rose 11 percent to 121,452. Sales of the electric Leaf increased 62 percent to 3,019, a record July for the car, which went on sale in 2010.
• Hyundai sales rose 1.5 percent to 67,011. Sonata sedan sales were up 19 percent, while the Santa Fe SUV jumped 26 percent.
• Kia sales rose 7 percent to 52,309. Sales of the Sorento SUV increased 75 percent.
• Subaru sales jumped 27 percent to 45,714 on the strength of the new Forester SUV.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Sears leaving Century III after 3 decades in West Mifflin
- Finleyville maker of luxury kids’ structures learns from housing bust
- Treasury plans steps to curb tax inversions
- Existing home sales fall in August, snapping streak of gains
- Coal gathering opens with dour assessment, political vitriol
- Stocks slip on China growth jitters
- Balancing gas pipeline expansion, environmental unease a problem in Pa.
- Hospitals turn to technology to tear down language barriers with patients
- Symposiums to spotlight Pittsburgh’s role as an energy powerhouse
- More companies embrace exchanges to curb health care costs
- Families, friends become lenders of last resort for homebuyers