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US car sales hit the accelerator

Heavy hauler: Sales of the F-150 pick-up have helped Ford to lift its market performance ahead of the other two big US car-makers.

A booming June in US new-car showrooms shakes off credit crunch blues

General News logo3 Jul 2013

By BARRY PARK

BUYERS are flocking to US new-car showrooms at a rate not seen since the global financial crisis plunged two of the big three manufacturers into bankruptcy, the latest data shows.

Sales data for June, released overnight, skyrocketed with all three US car-making giants – General Motors, Ford and Chrysler – posting solid gains, along with a surprisingly strong performance from Japanese car-maker Toyota.

Most of the sales growth in the US during June was in the light truck segment, which includes SUVs and pick-ups. It accounted for almost one in four sales during the month.

Ford was the best-performing of the three major US car brands, with sales leaping 13 per cent compared with the same month last year. The month was also the best the company has posted since 2006, helped largely by sales of the F-150 pick-up .

June sales totalled 228,174 units. Sales of Ford-badged passenger cars rose by 12 per cent, utilities were up eight per cent, while sales of trucks were up 20 per cent.

GM’s total crossover sales were up nine per cent for the month compared with a year ago. Passenger car sales, meanwhile, were up four per cent, and truck sales, which include pick-ups, vans and SUVs, were up 8 per cent.

Overall, GM sold 264,843 vehicles in June, up 6.5 per cent over the same month last year and the best June on record since 2007.

“America’s families are better off than they were at the beginning of the year and they believe – with good justification – that the economic expansion is going to continue,” GM chief economist Mustafa Mohatarem said.

“Even moderate economic growth will be enough to keep the (US) auto sales rate in thesecond half of the year at healthy levels around the mid 15 million-unit mark.”

At that rate, the US new-car market this year was projected to reach about 15.8 million units, the highest level since 2007, GM said.

Sales of GM’s small-car range, which includes the Cruze, were up by almost 60 per cent compared with June last year.

Its Chevrolet brand – which will add a Holden Commodore-based SS sports sedan later this year – achieved double-digit sales for the month.

At Chrysler, sales rose by eight per cent to 156,686 units, also giving it the best June performance since 2007. Buyers flocked to the Dodge Ram pick-up, and also to the Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV during the month.

However, the figures are skewed slightly as the car-maker now includes Italian parent Fiat’s sales among its US tally. While Fiat sales only rose marginally, the best-selling US brand was Dodge, with the Jeep and Chrysler brands showing only a marginal increase in sales.

The surprise, though, was the performance of Japanese car brand Toyota. It only sold 195,235 vehicles in June, but sales picked up 14 per cent over the same month last year.

Toyota attributed much of that growth to sales of its petrol-electric hybrid models, which had their best-ever June on record. The month also saw the Camry mid-size sedan eclipse the 10 million sales mark.

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