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June 2014 Auto Sales: Trucks and SUVs are Hot, Cars are Not

By: Jeff Youngs, 7/3/2014

Based on June auto sales figures, Americans are buying plenty of crossovers, SUVs, and pickup trucks, but are leaving cars parked on dealer lots. Last month, light-truck sales surged 4% compared with the same month in 2013, while car sales fell 1%.

Nevertheless, June proved robust for overall light-vehicle retail sales, with LMC Automotive increasing its annual forecast to 13.4 million vehicles from 13.3 million vehicles. Factor in fleet sales and the forecast rises to 16.2 million from 16.1 million vehicles.

"The U.S. auto market is arguably in the best position and health it has been in since well before the great recession," said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive. "Sales are robust and stabilizing above a 16 million-unit pace and are back in balance with production levels, keeping inventory in check. While GDP growth remains below ideal levels, the auto market continues to be instrumental in helping drive the economy."

Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas warns the industry about what he sees happening. In an interview with Automotive News, Jonas says that longer loan terms--sometimes extended to 84 months of payments--are likely to take consumers out of normal trade cycles, creating what he characterizes as a future "vacuum." For now, though, automakers, dealers and consumers alike are reaping the rewards of a hot new-vehicle market.

Highlights: June 2014 Car Sales
According to Automotive News, rising employment, improved availability of credit, and low interest rates are the primary factors contributing to robust new-vehicle sales. Additionally, LMC Automotive notes that there are more new nameplates from which to choose in 2014, up 55% over last year, especially in hot segments.

More details about June 2014 car sales are provided in the sections that follow:

American Honda--American Honda's sales were down 6% from one year ago, with Acura declining 19% and Honda dropping 4%. This represents American Honda's fourth monthly decline in sales during the first six months of 2014, a performance defying industry trends.

BMW Group--Rising 6% from one year ago, BMW Group's sales increase is attributable to a 12% improvement for the BMW brand and a 6% gain by Rolls-Royce. Mini sales were down 18% in June.

Chrysler Group--Chrysler Group sales were up 9% from one year ago, marking 51 consecutive months of year-over-year improvement. Chrysler brand sales sank 12% in June, while Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, and Ram all rose between 1% and 28%, with Jeep leading the charge. Notably, the company's crossovers, SUVs, and trucks rose 22% while its car models declined 19%. It was the best June in 10 years for Ram pickup sales.

Daimler AG--Daimler enjoyed an 8% increase compared with June of last year, with Mercedes-Benz sales increasing 9% at the same time that Smart sales fell 14%.

Ford Motor Company--Ford sales dipped 6% compared with the same month in 2014. Ford brand sales declined 6%, while Lincoln sales fell 3%. Like American Honda, Ford's sales have now declined in four of the past six months, opposite general industry trends.

General Motors--General Motors increased sales 1% from one year ago, with crossovers, SUVs, and pickup trucks proving hot while car models are not. Cadillac sales were flat, GMC sales rose 11%, and Buick improved by 18%. Chevrolet, however, fell 3% compared with June 2013.

Hyundai Group--Hyundai sold more Sonata midsize sedans in June 2014 than it has in any month in that model's history, contributing to a 4% increase in overall Hyundai brand sales. Together with Kia, for which sales were flat in June, Hyundai Group sales rose 2% compared with last year.

Jaguar Land Rover--Land Rover sells nearly four SUVs for every car Jaguar sells, helping Jaguar Land Rover sales increase by 4% despite the fact that Jaguar sales declined by 23% in June. Land Rover was up 16%.

Maserati--Maserati continues its sales ascendancy on the strength of the new Ghibli and redesigned Quattroporte, with sales increasing 233% compared with last year.

Mazda--Mazda sales rose 17%, delivering the company's best June sales in a decade. Sales of the CX-5 crossover, Mazda 3 compact, and Mazda 6 midsize sedan each rose by double digits.

Mitsubishi--Mitsubishi continues to increase sales, rising 14% in June compared with the same month last year.

Nissan Group--Nissan Group's sales rose 5% in June, despite a decline of 6% at Infiniti. Sales of Nissan-brand models increased by 6% last month.

Subaru--Subaru enjoyed its best June sales month in its history, rising 5% from last year in advance of the arrival of redesigned 2015 Legacy and 2015 Outback models.

Tesla--Tesla sales shot up by 71% compared with a year ago. The electric-car manufacturer delivered nearly 1,000 more vehicles this June than it did last June.

Toyota Group--Toyota Group sales rose 3% from a year ago, due to increases at Toyota (4%) and Lexus (10%). Scion sales dropped a whopping 27%. Notably, Toyota Camry and Toyota Corolla both achieved double-digits sales gains on a percentage basis.

Volkswagen Group--Volkswagen Group sales declined by 8% overall, largely due to a 22% drop in Volkswagen brand sales. Audi sales rose 23%, Porsche was up 11% to its best June ever, Bentley increased by 6%, and Lamborghini sales revved up by 4%. Volkswagen says the arrival of the 2015 Golf and GTI will get it back on track.

Volvo--Volvo sales declined by 10% in June compared with the previous year, when dealers still had the C30 hatchback and C70 convertible on showroom floors.

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