DETROIT – U.S. auto sales may be slowing, but they still set a record in the first six months of this year.
Sales through June were up 1.5 per cent to 8.65 million, eclipsing last year’s record of 8.5 million, according Autodata Corp.
That was partly due to a strong June, which saw sales rebound after a disappointing May. Sales rose 2.5 per cent to more than 1.5 million. Ford, Honda, Fiat Chrysler, Hyundai, Subaru and Nissan all reported gains for the month. Sales were down at General Motors, Toyota and Volkswagen.
After six straight years of growth — and record sales of 17.5 million last year— U.S. sales are beginning to plateau. In the first six months of last year, for example, sales were up 4 per cent, or more than double the pace of this year. But low gas prices, low interest rates, enticing new vehicles and strong consumer confidence should keep them at a very high level.
“As long as economic conditions — like low unemployment and easy access to credit — continue, the industry will be in a strong position through the busy summer sales months,” said Jessica Caldwell, director of industry analysis for the car shopping site Edmunds.com.
General Motors Co. said its sales dropped 2 per cent to 255,210, due in part to ongoing cuts in low-profit sales to rental car companies. GM said its rental sales are down 37 per cent so far this year. Cadillac sales were up 6 per cent and Chevrolet sales were flat compared to last June, but Buick and GMC sales were down.
Ford Motor Co.’s sales rose 6 per cent to 240,109. Sales of its F-Series pickup — the nation’s bestselling vehicle — jumped 29 per cent to nearly 71,000 vehicles, or more than one every minute. But car sales fell 12 per cent thanks to Americans’ growing preference for SUVs. Sales at Ford’s luxury Lincoln brand were up 6 per cent.
Toyota Motor Corp.’s sales fell 6 per cent to 198,257. The company said short supplies of Toyota SUVs were partly to blame, along with weak sales of cars like the hybrid Prius, which saw sales slump 27 per cent. Sales of the company’s luxury Lexus SUVs were up 11 per cent.
Fiat Chrysler said its June sales rose 7 per cent to 197,073. Jeep sales jumped 17 per cent and Ram truck sales were up 14 per cent. But car sales suffered. Chrysler brand sales fell 20 per cent, while Fiat sales dropped 19 per cent.
Honda Motor Co.’s sales rose 3 per cent to 138,715 vehicles. The Honda brand saw increases in both car and truck sales, but sales at the company’s luxury Acura brand dropped 27 per cent.
Nissan Motor Co.’s sales jumped 13 per cent to 140,553. Sales of its new Maxima sedan more than doubled over last year.
Hyundai Motor Co. sold nine more vehicles this June compared to last June, for a total of 67,511. Sales of its new Tucson SUV nearly doubled from a year ago, but all of its cars saw lower demand.
Subaru said its sales rose 5 per cent to 46,598. Subaru’s bestseller, the Outback SUV, saw a 23 per cent jump in sales.
Volkswagen brand sales dropped 22 per cent to 23,809, the victim of the company’s diesel emissions cheating scandal.