Generally, Detroiters have heaved sighs of relief from July sales reports, as they respond to hope of improved economy on one hand and the effect of Cash for Clunkers on the other.
But when you analyze the results carefully, especially by models, July sales compared to same month a year ago have been quite uneven, with some surprising winners and sinners. I count as winners any model whose July sales in 2009 improved over those of July 2008. That list, accordingly, is quite long, led by Ford Motor Company cars and a sprinkling of others.
There are a lot of factors that can influence why some are ahead and others behind that have little to do with their perceived year-to-year popularity, such things as inventory levels, factory and dealer incentives, contests, cash backs and astute advertising. One unusual promotion has been Hyundai’s offer of $1.50/gallon gas for a whole year. Toyota got out early with advertising it had 25 vehicle models for sale that were eligible for clunker trade-ins, and Pontiac’s good showing relative to Saturn and Saab, the other two newly orphaned GM brands, could be accounted for by traditional Pontiac fans who want to get them while they can.
Ford’s biggest car seller was Focus at 21,830, up from 15,200 units the year before, followed by Fusion at 17,610, up from 10,610 in July 2008. Surprisingly, Lincoln Town Car sales of 1,841 nearly doubled the year before number and even step-child Mercury Grand Marquis managed to squeeze out a gain, 2,667 over 2,569. Milan sales came to 2,934, up from 1,836.
On the truck side, of course Ford numbers were off in total, but there were some model gainers: Escape at 20,241 nearly doubled the year ago figure, Flex managed 3,631 against 2,200 and Ranger—another step-child—counted 7,695 deliveries, up from 4,677.