01 August 2012

GM, Ford Sales Fall, Chrysler is Up

Story first reported from USA Today

General Motors kicked off the second half of the sales year with a whimper, reporting a 6% decline in sales in July compared to a year ago. GM blamed lower sales to rental fleets.

But there was some good news. GM says its Cadillac unit saw 21% higher sales due to the popularity of its CTS, Escalade, SRX and the new XTS.

"Cadillac hit a home run and our newest Chevrolets and Buicks are performing very well," said Kurt McNeil, vice president in charge of U.S. sales in a statement. "Signs of a housing recovery and good news on consumer confidence and household income should help keep the light vehicle selling rate in the 14-million range and drive seasonally higher truck sales as we move toward fall."

GM says that it's sales of 201,237 vehicles reflected a 3% decline in sales to individual customers in showrooms and a 41% dropoff in sales to rental car fleets. Automakers generally frown upon rental-car fleet sales as low-profit arrangements.

GM touted other bright spots, too. Buick Verano sales have increased every month since the compact was launched in December. Sales of the small Chevrolet Sonic were strongest since its introduction, no small feat given lower gas prices. The even smaller Spark just went on sale.

Ford Motor

Ford's sales slumped 4% in July and like GM, it blames lower sales to rental and corporate fleets.

But there was good news in the showrooms: Ford's U.S. retail sales increased 2% in July versus year-ago levels, driven by strong retail customer demand for fuel-efficient vehicles.

Ford's Fusion midsize sedan, which is due to be replaced soon by an updated model, exceeded its best-ever July sales record last month. Just in time for summer fun, Mustang sales rose 8%.

The Explorer crossover SUV had its best sales month since 2006. And the big F-Series pickups had their 12th straight month of sales increases.

Turbocharged EcoBoost-equipped F-150s made up 42% of retail sales mix in July.

Chrysler Group

Chrysler Group sales rose 13% in July compared to the same month in the previous year, which the automaker says was its best performance for the month since 2007.

Rebounding Chrysler says it saw gains in each of its divisions --Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram Truck, and Fiat. It was the 28th straight month of gains.

"We again demonstrated our disciplined and methodical approach to growing sales and profits," said Reid Bigland, CEO of the Dodge brand and head of U.S. sales.

The gain was driven in part by two models that set sales records July: the Chrysler 200 mid-size sedan and the Dodge Journey full-size crossover. Sales of the award-winning Journey were up 69%. In a good sign for the U.S. economy, Ram pickup sales gained 17%. Pickup-truck sales are often a sign that construction is rebounding.

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