Automakers report strong US sales in July
Automakers reported strong US sales in July, boosted by sport utility vehicles, as the industry benefited again from lower gasoline prices and a steadily improving US economy.
Overall sales rose 5.3 percent from a year ago to 1.51 million vehicles in July, according to Autodata. That puts the annual rate of US auto sales at 17.55 million, according to Autodata, the third month in a row above 17 million cars, a torrid pace of sales for the industry.
"Right now the industry is genuinely vibrant, benefiting from robust consumer demand that is enabling automakers to pull back incentive spending," said John Krafcik, president of TrueCar, an automotive pricing and information service.
"Consumers are feeling more affluent, and with more disposable income to invest back into the economy, the auto sector is thriving." The hot market is translating into higher prices for cars. The average price of a car sold was $33,453 in July 2015, up 2.6 percent from July 2014, according to Kelley Blue Book.
General Motors, the biggest US automaker, said July sales surged six percent from a year ago to 272,512 vehicles behind a strong performance in pickup trucks, SUVs and some sedan lines. "The second half of 2015 is off to a great start, with industry sales above expectations," said GM vice president for sales Kurt McNeil. Ford notched 4.9 percent rise in sales to 222,731, a gain that included an 11 percent rise in Ford SUVs.
Sales of SUVs have stayed strong with declining fuel prices. US gasoline prices stand at an average $2.65 per gallon (3.78 liters), down more than 24 percent from a year ago. The sales figures from GM, Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Honda and Toyota were all higher than the increases projected by online car site Edmunds, which had given a bullish forecast on July after US automakers enjoyed a buoyant first half of 2015 thanks in part to lower gasoline prices.
Fiat Chrysler's July sales came in at 178,027 vehicles, up 6.2 percent from the year-ago period and about 2,100 above the level projected by online car site Edmunds. FCA said several brands under the Jeep line scored strong sales, including its flagship Jeep Grand Cherokee, which notched a five percent rise. FCA said sales were also strong for Chrysler 200, a midsized sedan. Sales in the Ram pickup truck line rose one percent.
Toyota reported sales of 217,181 vehicles, up 0.6 percent from a year ago, as Camry was its best-selling car in July. Lexus luxury utility vehicles revved almost 28 percent higher and the Toyota Highlander gained more than 12 percent. Takoma and Tundra pickup sales were up nearly 17 percent. "July auto sales showed no signs of slowdown for the industry," said Bill Fay, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager.