The U.S. auto market showed some unexpected energy in June, but a closer look reveals some surprises behind the numbers.
Pickups have given the market much of its momentum in recent months, but the long-time industry leading Ford F-Series slumped an unexpected 11% for the month – while still leaving a big gap between itself and second-place Chevrolet Silverado. The Ram pickup gained nearly 12% for June, but couldn’t quite overcome the third-place Toyota Camry, which was up 13.4%.
The market saw a jump in demand for small and high-mileage offerings. The Toyota Prius, for example, was 17th on the June list, while the maker also landed in the seventh spot with its latest-generation Corolla compact.
Considering the fact that trucks, SUVs and crossovers now account for about half of the U.S. market, perhaps the big surprise for June was the fact that sedans, coupes and hatchbacks accounted for 12 of the 20 top sellers for June, with three pickups and six SUVs and CUVs (that adds up to 21 because Toyota combines sales of the Corolla sedan and Matrix crossover).
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While the Prius was the only hybrid-only model in the top ranks, automakers did gain some much-needed momentum in the plug-based category. Leading the charge was the Nissan Leaf which reported its 16th consecutive year-over-year increase. The Japanese battery-electric vehicle had its best June ever, and while it was down slightly from May, it was up 5.5% from June 2013. Nissan sold 2,347 Leafs, the vehicle’s best June ever, and since the beginning of the year, the battery-car is now up 29.4%.
Not every manufacturer has reported in for the month. Ford still has to update its plug-based sales numbers. But the segment’s perennial number two model, the Chevrolet Volt, had a mixed month. Volt gained some ground over May, but at 1,777 of the plug-in hybrids, sales were down a surprising 34% from June 2013, when buyers snapped up 2,698 Volts.
The plebian Chevy’s up-market sibling, the Cadillac ELR, hasn’t exactly generated a huge response from green-minded buyers. But while it still couldn’t break into triple digits, the Caddy plug-in did come close, at 97 reaching its best monthly sales since its introduction last December.
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Volt’s weak performance let Tesla surge into second place in the plug-based category, with estimated sales of an even 1,800 vehicles. If the official figures prove accurate, that would be a whopping 80% increase from May, and compares with sales of 1,350 of the luxury battery-electric model a year ago.
The Prius plug-in hybrid has had an up-and-down year. It’s generally lagged its most direct rival, the Volt, but for an unexpected surge in May sales. But Toyota had to settle for third place last month. Nonetheless, at 1,571, the Prius PHV nearly tripled its performance in June 2013.
And while its numbers were modest, the all-new BMW i3 may be off to a good start. Sales jumped from its debut 336 in May to 358 for June. The electric city car will be joined early next year by a plug-in sports car, the BMW i8, as part of the maker’s new “i” brand of battery-based vehicles.
According to a preliminary tally by InsideEVs.com, the growing list of plug-based models generated collective sales of about 8,492 vehicles last month, up 200 from year-earlier levels – but the figure is misleading, as it doesn’t include Ford’s results, nor numbers for either the Fiat 500e and the Porsche Panamera S-E.
For the first half of the year – with the same caveat, plug-based sales hit 51,062, up from 40,807 during the first six months of 2013.
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Here’s the list of the June’s Top 20 best-selling vehicles for the U.S. market:
- Ford F-Series pickup
- Chevrolet Silverado pickup
- Toyota Camry
- Ram 1500-3500 pickup
- Honda Accord
- Honda Civic
- Toyota Corolla / Matrix
- Ford Fusion
- Ford Focus
- Honda CR-V
- Nissan Altima
- Chevrolet Cruze
- Hyundai Sonata
- Ford Escape
- Chevrolet Equinox
- Toyota RAV4
- Toyota Prius
- Ford Explorer
- Hyundai Elantra
- Nissan Sentra