Although July 2010 light-vehicle sales (retail and fleet) edged up only 1.3%* (on a selling-day-adjusted basis) from the same month last year, the performance was reasonable, according to J.D. Power analysis.
“A relatively small year-over-year retail sales decline of 3.8% indicates an improving auto market considering the degree to which the CARS program, or ‘Cash for Clunkers,’ inflated sales volumes in July of 2009,” said Dave Cutting, senior manager of North American Automotive Forecasting at J.D. Power and Associates. He also points out that July 2010 retail sales were up 8.9% from June 2010 retail sales and “were helped by model year-end sales activities despite mixed economic conditions.”
Fleet sales increased 39.5% this year from last year, but Cutting also said that the increase is not quite as strong as it appears because, “Fleet sales in July 2009 were very low due to the CARS scrappage program that ran until August 2009.”
Cutting also pointed out some segment-level sales trends that could be observed in the July results, following last year’s trend to smaller vehicles from the CARS program. A few segment-level highlights:
- Sub-Compact Conventional and Compact Conventional categories posted lower sales in July than a year ago, as expected, due to a comparison to sales during the CARS scrappage program last year.
- Sub-Compact Conventional deliveries fell 21.7% from last year. Among the nine entries, the Nissan Versa was the sales leader, followed by the Honda Fit, which ranked highest in its segment in delighting owners in the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study,SM and the Chevrolet Aveo. Of note, the all-new Ford Fiesta totaled 3,349 unit sales in its second month on the US market, up from 1,028 units in its launch month of June.
- Compact Conventional segment sales declined 22.5% from a year ago. The Toyota Corolla continued to lead the category in sales volume, followed by the Honda Civic and the Hyundai Elantra. Despite the impact of the CARS program last year, the Elantra model posted better sales in July 2010 than in the same month in 2009.
- The Large Pickup segment continued its upward momentum with a 23.5% increase from last July, to 128,509 unit sales. Also, the category’s sales were up 4.2% from June 2010. The Large Pickup segment garnered a 12.27% share of industry sales in July vs. 10.06% a year ago, when the CARS scrappage program, which favored purchases of smaller vehicles, was in place. The Ford F-Series continued to lead the segment and the industry in July sales.
- Sales in the Midsize CUV and Midsize Utility segments also grew on year-over-year and month-over-month bases. Midsize CUVs captured 8.2% of industry sales in July 2010. The Chevrolet Traverse was the segment sales leader, closely followed by the Ford Edge and the Subaru Outback.
- Midsize Utility deliveries climbed by more than one-third from July 2009. The Honda Pilot dominated the category and was followed by the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which includes sales of the redesigned 2011 model, and the Toyota 4Runner. The truck-based utilities gained a slightly larger share in July than in June and in July 2009.
*July 2010 had one more selling day (27 days) than July 2009 (26 days).