Sales of new vehicles came out better than expected in June, paced by a strong showing by Volkswagen and increases by steadily growing Subaru as well as by Fiat Chrysler, which is continuing to benefit from booming deliveries of pickup trucks.
Volkswagen said its sales increased by 10% as sales of the brand utility vehicles surged last month. However, General Motors, Toyota and Nissan all reported weaker sales for June.
FCA reported its best June in 14 years as total sales climbed 2% to 206,083 vehicles, driven by Ram pickup trucks which had its highest month of sales since the brand was detached from Dodge and launched as a standalone division in 2009.
Sales of the new Jeep Gladiator sales totaled 4,231 vehicles, which helped the nameplate capture an estimated 7% of the midsized truck market after only one full month in showrooms. However, Jeep sales fell 12% from record levels of 2018.
“For the first-half of 2019, Ram has been on a tear since we made the strategic decision to enter the year with a three-truck strategy. The new Ram 1500, Ram Classic and Heavy Duty are all generating a huge response from customers and critics alike,” said Reid Bigland, head of FCA sales.
“This is now the third month Ram pickup sales have surpassed 60,000 since December. Our dealers had a steady stream of customers all month long,” Bigland said.
Sales of Ram pickups for June rose 56% to 68,098 vehicles. For the quarter, Ram pickup truck sales finished at 179,454 vehicles. The strong month resulted Ram outselling Chevrolet for the second quarter by more than 35,000 trucks — one of the biggest sales stories of the year.
The news for GM doesn’t improve any as deliveries during the second quarter were down 1.5% versus a year ago, in line with third-party estimates for industry sales. The company estimates that its retail market share was even with a year ago, with truck and crossover deliveries offsetting lower passenger car sales.
Sales of the Silverado light-duty pickup truck dropped 9.4% during the first six months of 2019 to 194,426 as sales of the Ram pickup surged.
Toyota Motor North America reported June 2019 sales of 202,352 vehicles, a decrease of 3.5% on a volume basis and an increase of 0.3% on a daily selling rate (DSR) basis versus June 2018. Sales of Toyota brands sales dropped 3.5%, while Lexus sales fell by 3% last month.
For the first half of the year, TMNA reported sales of 1,152,108 vehicles, down 3.1% on a volume basis versus the same period in 2018.
Subaru of America Inc. reported 61,511 vehicle sold for June 2019, a 2.8% increase compared with June 2018, and the best June sales in the history of the company. Subaru also sold a record 339,525 vehicles in the first half of 2019, up 5.2% compared with the same period last year. June also marked Subaru’s 64th consecutive month of 40,000 plus vehicle sales.
Nissan, however, continues in downward spiral with sales falling 15.4%. Infiniti sales dropped by 8%.
The U.S. light-vehicle SAAR for the first half of the year is expected to be a healthy 17.0 million units, according to GM Chief Economist Elaine Buckberg. “The U.S. economy continues to grow at a healthy pace. Jobs are plentiful and inflation remains low,” said Buckberg.
“Auto demand was better than anticipated in the first half and we expect strong performance in the second half of the year. If the Fed cuts rates, as widely expected, lower financing costs will provide further support to auto sales,” she said.
Meanwhile buyers continue to show a willingness to pay more for vehicles as incentives are creeping upwards.
“Transaction price growth accelerated in June, climbing 3% as demand for trucks and SUVs pushed sales and prices up in those segments. Light trucks and SUVs are expected to account for about 71% of sales in June, up from 68% a year ago.,” said Tim Fleming, analyst for Kelley Blue Book.
“Overall, SUV prices were up 4%, and trucks rose 3%, while car prices were flat (and still lost market share). Luxury and mainstream mid-size SUVs are showing the most strength right now, with brand new models such as the BMW X7 and Kia Telluride driving incremental sales and price growth for their brands,” Fleming said.