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Cruze Wins Sales Crown – But for How Long?

Domestics dominate in June sales charts – but the worst may be over for Japanese makers.

by on Jul.05, 2011

The Chevy Cruze was America's best-selling compact passenger car - at least for June.

The Chevrolet Cruze handily beat such long-dominant rivals as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry to become the nation’s best-selling passenger car – and third best-seller overall – last month.

The success of the compact Chevy shows that Detroit is making a serious commitment to crack the small car market long controlled by its Asian rivals.  But analysts warn that Cruze and other domestic best-sellers, such as the new 2012 Ford Focus, could be facing renewed competition in the months to come as Asian makers finally overcome the setbacks created by Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

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Only two of the Top 10 vehicles sold in the U.S. last month bore import badges, and that included both the Toyota Camry, ranked eighth, as well as the number 10 Hyundai Elantra, one of an assortment of new entries from the U.S., Europe and South Korea aimed at breaking Japan’s long dominance of the American small car market.

“The month caps a successful first half of 2011 for us in the U.S. market — our sales are up and we’ve gained share profitably,” said Don Johnson, head of U.S. sales operations for General Motors.

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June Sales Rebound – For Some

Koreans, domestics make strong gains, but Toyota, Honda hammered by shortages.

by on Jul.01, 2011

The Chevrolet Cruze surged past rivals like the Camry and Corolla to become America's best-selling passenger car in June.

It was a good month – for some – but while domestic and Korean automakers saw sales rebound after May’s unexpected plunge, two of Japan’s biggest makers continued to face problems due to product shortages.

With gas prices sliding after their mid-spring peak, June saw a notable upturn in demand for pickups, though small cars maintained strong sales, as well, according to industry data released on Friday.   But that was small consolation for Toyota and Honda, which are minor players in the pickup segment and who ran into serious shortages of small, fuel-efficient passenger cars like the all-new Honda Civic.

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That gave General Motors the chance to sprint past its Asian rivals, the Detroit maker’s Chevrolet Cruze surging past both the Civic and Toyota Camry to become the best-selling passenger car in the U.S.

Overall, U.S. sales for June climbed by 7% year-over-year, to 1.05 million.  That was short of the double-digit gain industry analysts had been forecasting but still an improvement over May, when the industry posted its first slide this year.

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June Car Sales Likely to Show Slight Rebound

But Toyota, Honda still likely to be down sharply.

by on Jun.28, 2011

Toyota sales will likely be off sharply for June.

The U.S. auto industry should have a reason to celebrate over the upcoming Independence Day holiday; initial data suggest that increased industry discounting set off fireworks for consumers, sending them back to showrooms after May’s unexpected downturn.

But the trendline remains soft compared to the strong market of early 2011, and at least one study of consumer “intensity” suggests that the rebound may not last long, sales potentially slipping again in the months ahead.

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June’s apparent upturn suggests that consumers are opening their pocketbooks again now that fuel prices have retreated a bit from an early spring surge.  Meanwhile, manufacturers like Toyota have consciously bought momentum by ramping up their incentives.  Makers had consciously trimmed back their giveaways over the spring – in large part responding to product shortages created by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan.

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