U.S. auto sales see further recovery in July

14:00, August 03, 2011      

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U.S. auto sales enjoyed another gaining month in July, led by Chrysler Group LLC with a 20-percent jump, as fuel-efficient vehicles continued their popularity among U.S. consumers.

Chrysler sold 112,026 vehicles in July, which marks the 16th consecutive month of year-over-year gains and the best July since 2007. GM sold 214,915 cars and light trucks in the month, up 7.7 percent from a year earlier. Meanwhile, Ford's monthly sales rose nine percent to 180,865 vehicles.

Don Johnson, vice president of GM's U.S. Sales Operations, said that the sales of the fuel-efficient cars, such as the Chevrolet Cruze and crossovers, remain strong in July, and the month also saw seasonal lift in full-size pickups.

Statistics showed that GM's fuel-efficient crossovers went up 20 percent for the month. Meanwhile, the full-size pickup sales fell 3 percent from a year ago but are inching back with a 2 percent increase from last month.

"Customers value the fuel efficiency and technology in our new utilities," said Ken Czubay, Ford's vice president in charge of the U.S. market, noting that the company is equipping the 2012 Explorer, one of its best-selling models, with a new engine, which could has an EPA estimated highway fuel economy rating of 28 mpg.

However, Japan's car makers continued to suffer decline in the United States. Toyota's sales fell 23 percent to 130,802 vehicles and Honda's declined 28 percent to 80,601 cars and trucks. Both companies reported substantial declines of models that are either made in Japan or depend on parts from the country.

In contrast, South Korea's Hyundai Motor enjoyed a 10 percent increase in the month, with car sales increasing from 54,106 to 59, 561.

Johnson said that the U.S. auto sector has faced several significant headwinds in the past several months. But the industry is poised to regain some of its lost momentum in the second half of the year, aided by higher supply and pent-up demand.

"There are people who put off vehicle purchases because of uncertainty about fuel prices, vehicle availability and the economy," said Johnson. "As these conditions improve in the latter half of this year, many of these buyers will return to the market. "

GM expected that total industry sales would arrive in the lower end of its forecast for the whole year of 2011, which was made in January at 13 million to 13.5 million units.

After a fast start this year, the U.S. auto industry began to suffer falling sales in May due to firmer prices, a shortage of Japanese vehicles and concerns about the U.S. economy.

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