Higher July Auto Sales Leave Industry in Strange TerritoryBy AutoObserver Staff August 4, 2010
By Dale Buss, Michelle Krebs and Marti Benedetti
The U.S. auto market has entered something of a twilight zone with the release of July's numbers, which showed an overall sales increase of about 5 percent compared with July 2009.
"Dealers told us that they saw buying customers, not tire-kickers," said Albert "Al" Castignetti, vice president and general manager of the Nissan Division of Nissan USA, which saw a 15-percent gain for July. "They needed a car, and they were credit-worthy.
So why strange?
Well, even July's positive results weren't particularly encouraging overall, given the dark clouds forming over the U.S. economy again. And auto sales motored along last month even while most other economic signals faltered.
What's more, short-term comparisons of this year's vehicle sales with last year's are becoming meaningless because of the extreme comparisons against last summer's extraordinary, one-time sales bump from the federal Cash for Clunkers rebate program.
The comparisons of this July versus last July were skewed somewhat because the rebates of up to $4,500 became available for the last five days of July 2009 under the program. For August and September, making comparisons will be even more potentially misleading.
"August sales could show some strength, but the year-to-year comparisons will be unusual because of the Cash for Clunkers factor," said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds.com's director of industry analysis.
Here's another wild card: A somewhat widely feared spike in gasoline prices from today's levels around $2.80 a gallon could discombobulate whatever progress the U.S. auto market has made toward recovery.
So far this year, through July, automakers have sold about 6.7 million vehicles in this country, about 15 percent ahead of last year's pace.
Underwhelming July Sales
For the most part, July sales results were unremarkable. They totaled about 1,050,000 units and produced a Seasonally Adjusted Annualized (SAAR) sales rate of 11.6 million units. That was somewhat lower than the SAAR predicted by most analysts, who focused on the fact that American consumers were beginning to come to showrooms again and were swimming in generous incentive offers once they got there.
"We thought this month would be a better sales month, so that is somewhat disappointing," Caldwell said. "It started out so strong. But it was better than June," when U.S. automakers sold 983,000 units and the SAAR was 11.1 million.
Caldwell had predicted that "incentives would draw in a lot of people, and to some extent they did." But, she added, "there's still consumer hesitance. The bottom lines for people, personally, haven't changed a lot in terms of their income and how they feel. People are still struggling."
Emily Kolinski Morris, Ford's chief economist, agreed that "slow employment gains, uneven credit-market improvement and declines in home values have led consumers to spend cautiously, particularly on big-ticket items like vehicles." And she noted the industry's concern particularly about recent declines in consumer-confidence indices.
Yet both Morris and General Motors Chief Economist Ted Chu made a case for a continued expectation of a steady recovery in U.S. auto sales based on economic fundamentals.
"The underlying trend of modest economic recovery continues," Morris said. Chu said that "every month we have [a SAAR] below 12 million, we believe pent-up demand will continue to accumulate. As long as employment keeps on crawling back slowly and gas prices remain below $3 a gallon ... sales will rise on a gradual basis."
Pointedly, none of the major automakers changed their long-running forecasts for a full-year 2010 sales result of between 11.5 million and 12 million sales, including heavy trucks, which would comprise a gain of around 10 percent or more over 2009 sales of 10.6 million units. Edmunds.com has long predicted an 11.3 million light vehicle year.
"We're cautiously optimistic about the rest of the year," said Nissan's Castignetti.
And several auto company executives in particular remained bullish about steadily growing strength in sales of pickups, some of their highest-profit vehicles. New offerings of heavy-duty diesel models by Ford and GM, coupled with the prospects of some recovery in the U.S. housing market and pent-up demand by small-business owners, are sparking some promise in that segment.
General Motors: Newer the Better
General Motors posted July sales of 199,502 units, up about 6 percent from year-earlier sales and up nearly 3 percent from June 2010 sales.
Company executives depicted the gain as another step forward in GM's plan to revitalize its remaining four brands, replenish them with a continuing stream of worthy new vehicles, keep production in line with market demand, and then ride the fledgling economic recovery to happier days.
"We have balance," said Don Johnson, GM's new vice president of U.S. sales operations. "Our results aren't tied to one division, brand, product or month."
But GM is happy to have its turnaround tied to a growing mini-fleet of recently or newly launched vehicles including the new Chevrolet Equinox, Buick LaCrosse and Cadillac SRX. Sales of "new launches" increased 200 percent in July over a year earlier, Johnson noted.
For example, sales of a new version of the SRX in July were 783 percent higher than a year ago, the 11th straight month of triple-digit-percentage increases. In large part as a result, Cadillac's retail sales in July more than doubled compared with July 2009.
"We've gained 4.8 points of market share in the luxury segment over last July," said Kurt McNeil, Cadillac's head. "This July we were at 10.4 percent, and we're up 32 percent volume-wise."
Nothing is more import-dominant than the luxury part of the business but we've gained. Overall, GM's retail sales for July were up 15 percent compared with a year ago, Johnson noted, and for the year to date rose 18 percent compared with 2009, "significantly outpacing the industry."
For some months, GM executives had been heralding a gradual decline from historically high percentages of fleet sales through the first half of the year, and in July their prediction began to be realized. Fleet purchases comprised about 25 percent of GM's overall July sales; year-to-date, they ran at about 31 percent, but Johnson foresaw the overall figure "coming down" some more for the year as a whole.
Industry analysts had noted the presence of generous incentives across the U.S. auto market in July, but Johnson pointed out that GM was more exceptional than regular in its relatively constrained level of generosity. He said that GM's incentive spending in July was down about $730 per vehicle on average compared with a year ago, to about $3,270 per vehicle.
"We have to continue to monitor pricing and incentives in the marketplace," he said. "But overall we're getting more price in the market." GM's average transaction price in July was about $3,300 higher than a year ago.
And given how strongly new models have contributed to GM's overall results over the last year or so, Johnson expressed confidence that some other soon-to-be-introduced models - including the Chevrolet Cruze and Chevrolet Volt, and heavy-duty versions of its pickup trucks -- would help some more.
GM's Bestsellers in July 2010
Ford: Cruise Control
Ford sold 170,208 vehicles in July, up 3 percent compared with a year earlier and about flat with June 2010. However, for the year to date, Ford's sales were 23 percent ahead of a year ago.
Company executives represented the middling number as the result of a couple of major factors: a difficult comparison with the start of Cash for Clunkers a year ago, and a one-month drop in sales to daily-rental fleets.
"Our retail share of 14 percent was consistent with the rest of the first seven months of the year," said George Pipas, Ford's head of U.S. industry analysis. "Commercial-fleet sales were double a year ago, continuing our strong performance. But daily-rental sales in July were 54 percent below a year ago."
As far as Cash for Clunkers was concerned, a handful of Ford models including Ford Escape and Ford Focus were among the biggest initial sellers in late July 2009.
"They were right there with the best of the best [models] in terms of sales for cash-for-clunkers," Pipas said. "Each product also did really well in July of this year, but they were compared against the really off-the-charts demand last year."
Meanwhile, at least a couple of important new-model developments boosted Ford's results in July.
Its Ford Fiesta subcompact has sold briskly in its first 40 days on the market, to the tune of about 3,000 units, said Ken Czubay, Ford's vice president of U.S. sales.
Three additional factors accounted for Ford's enthusiasm about early returns on sales of Fiesta in this country.
First, Fiesta is selling well in Southern California, a "very competitive small-car market" where imports historically have held sway in the segment.
Second, Czubay said, Fiesta is enjoying "a greater percentage of 35-and-under" buyers than many of its competitors. Ford's efforts to cater to consumers in Generation X and the Millennial generation have included a strong marketing campaign using social media.
Third, he noted, the mix of sales of variously equipped versions of Fiesta "has been even stronger than we'd planned." About 40 percent of sales have been highly loaded versions of the car, and 62 percent are hatchbacks. "That's a segment where people didn't know if [loaded models] would sell in the U.S.," he said.
Czubay also was enthused about consumer reception for the heavy-duty version of the F-Series pickup trucks that Ford introduced a few months ago. Sales of the "Super-Duty" version were up 63 percent in July over a year ago, he said, and Ford's share of the heavy-duty segment of the truck market was more than 50 percent for the month.
"That's a level," Czubay said, "that we haven't seen for 10 years."
Ford's Bestsellers in July
Toyota: What's Up Is Down
Toyota Motor Sales USA sold 169,224 units in July, about 3 percent fewer than a year ago - but up more than 20 percent compared with June 2010.
And to Bob Carter, general manager of the Toyota division, the comparison with June is the point.
At first blush, the July results for weren't encouraging, especially when compared with gains by GM and Ford. But Carter noted that, in the case of Toyota's numbers for last month, down was actually up.
"When you put the small declines in proper perspective," Carter said, "you'll see why we consider July to be a very good month for Toyota" even though overall industry sales were up by about 5 percent.
Here's what Carter was figuring.
First, Toyota's sales suffered tremendously in July by comparison with sales a year earlier because the federal government's hyper-stimulative "cash for clunkers" rebate program kicked in during the last five days of July, 2009. And Toyota's small, fuel-efficient cars -- Corolla and Yaris among them - were some of the biggest hits right out of the chute.
Second, Toyota's U.S. sales last month were strong compared with sales this just-passed June, as Carter noted.
And, third - in an especially good bit of news for Toyota's efforts to come back from its safety-recall woes - the company is back in the business of brand "conquesting."
Carter pointed out that, for the first month this year, in July more than half of Toyota-brand buyers traded in a vehicle made by a competitor. That was even better than levels that Toyota typically was used to before its spate of safety problems earlier this year.
"Toyota is getting over what happened in terms of recalls," said Edmunds.com's Caldwell. "They're not out of the woods, but that was an encouraging sign."
In fact, Caldwell noted, after trailing Ford by more than 20,000 units in sales per month earlier this year, Toyota in July finished fewer than 1,000 sales under Ford.
"That's not a big difference," she said. "And that's definitely a good sign for Toyota."
Results for the Lexus luxury brand also were encouraging to the company. Overall sales were down nearly 13 percent in July compared with a year ago.
But Mark Templin, division general manager, noted that "no luxury brand benefit more than Lexus" from the cash-for-clunkers program last year. Lexus sported five models that quickly became big sellers under the government's rebate initiative, he said, and for this July the year-ago sales surge came back to sour comparisons.
Toyota's Bestsellers in July
Honda: Slips into Negative Territory
Acura's emergence from its long sales slump and a boost in sales of truck-type vehicles weren't enough to keep American Honda from slipping into negative territory compared with a year ago.
American Honda, including its Honda and Acura brands, reported July sales of 112,437 vehicles, a 2-percent decline from year-ago levels.
The decline came from the Honda Division, which posted July sales of 99,420 vehicles, a decrease of nearly 10 percent from a year ago. Honda truck sales were up 23 percent at 44,823 units sold, led by the CR-V, up 1 percent; Odyssey minivan sales were up 38 percent, and Pilot SUV sales were up 45 percent. Ridgeline sales rose 28 percent.
Honda's volume models - Accord and Civic - suffered sales drops of 18 percent and 26 percent respectively. Fit sales were off 30 percent; Insight hybrid sales fell 22 percent.
"A year ago the Cash for Clunkers program began and sales of fuel-efficient Honda vehicles picked up quickly at the end of the month," said John Mendel, American Honda executive vice president of sales. "Although July sales declined versus last year, our sales increased compared to June 2010, which is a positive sign." Indeed, Edmunds.com calculates American Honda's June-to-July sales increased 5 percent.
Acura had its highest sales since August 2008 at 13,017 vehicles, an increase of 45 percent from a year ago. Acura sales were heavily weighted toward the MDX, traditionally the brand's bestseller, and the TSX. Both models saw their highest sales levels since August 2008. MDX sales were up 64 percent; TSX sales rose 40 percent.
The controversially styled ZDX had its best month ever at a still scant 578 units. TL sales dropped 2 percent.
For the year, Acura has sold 74,134, up 24 percent from the year-ago period.
Honda's Bestsellers in July
Chrysler: Nearing the Promise
Chrysler reported U.S. sales of 93,313 units in July, up more than 6 percent compared with a year earlier and up more than 1 percent compared with June 2010.
But for the major automotive brand that has fallen the furthest over the last few years, the focus remains on the future. At least, now, it's the near future. The company promises to "revamp the remaining 75 percent of our nameplates by year end besides the Jeep Grand Cherokee, said Fred Diaz, president and chief executive officer of the Ram truck brand and lead executive for U.S. sales.
The Grand Cherokee already is improving things for Chrysler. It is "drawing customers into our showrooms, setting the pace and standard for our company, and generating positive reviews both nationally and internationally," Diaz said.
The vehicle has begun to arrive at dealerships in significant numbers, and Grand Cherokee sales were up 54 percent in July as the new version supplanted the old one. Grand Cherokee sales were up 86 percent compared with June 2010, Chrysler said.
Meanwhile, other Jeep brand vehicles posted a strong July, including Wrangler and Liberty.
Dodge Challenger sales rose 317 percent in July versus a year earlier, when Chrysler was in the midst of a bailout by the federal government and its new owners, Fiat SpA. Ram pickup truck sales increased 14 percent in July.
But even through Chrysler has trotted out a new version of its iconic Grand Cherokee -- and has achieved an even keel with other major OEMs in terms of its own sales performance relative to a disastrous 2009 -- the company and its products still are very much about the future: a total of 16 new or "significantly refreshed" vehicles this year.
Chrysler's Bestsellers in July
Nissan: Up Biggest Percentage of Big 6
Nissan North America, with its Nissan and Infiniti brands, saw the heftiest year-over-year percentage increase among the Big 6 automakers in July.
Nissan sold 82,337 vehicles, up 15 percent from the year earlier; Nissan sales rose 12 percent; Infiniti sales were up 38 percent.
July marked the Nissan Division's 10th consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases. "The Nissan Division saw very good showroom traffic all month," Albert "Al" Castignetti, Nissan Division vice president and general manager, said in an interview with AutoObserver.com.
Castignetti noted increases were across the board. However, much of Nissan's increase came on the strength of its body-on-frame truck and SUVs, as Nissan car sales in total were down 3 percent year-over-year.
Castignetti said buyers of trucks and SUVs desperately need a replacement and/or they fear the genre will disappear with the more stringent fuel-economy standards coming in 2016.
"And the stabilization of gas prices aided in that tremendously," he added. "A lot of people nervous about losing their job or people getting back to work need that type of vehicle, which is causing a resurgence in those segments
Sales of Nissan's trucks and SUVs, including the Titan, Armada, Xterra, Pathfinder and Frontier, grew by double and even triple digits. Armada sales rose 312 percent for its best month of sales since August 2008.
The Rogue crossover recorded its best monthly sales ever at 10,963 units sold, a 62-percent increase from a year ago. The Murano was up 58 percent at 5,462 vehicles. Maxima sales were up 34 percent for its best July since 2006.
If July is any indication, August will be "a very, very good month" for Nissan Division as its "Bottomline" promotion runs through the whole month. "We're cautiously optimistic about the rest of the year," he said.
At Infiniti, sales shot up 38 percent to 9,764 units, led by the completely redesigned Infiniti QX56 full-size SUV. Infiniti sold 1,319 of them for a 139-percent increase over a year ago. Sales of the new 2011 Infiniti M luxury sedan saw a 76-percent hike over last July. G sedan sales of 4,135 units were up 37 percent over the prior year, marking the best-ever July sales for Infiniti's top-selling model.
"Infiniti's sales momentum continues to build, thanks to the all-new M and QX, as well as the refreshed G lineup," said Ben Poore, vice president, Infiniti Business Unit.
Nissan's Bestsellers in July
Hyundai: Another Barnburner
Paced by hot-selling new models, Hyundai Motor America set an all-time sales record in July and surpassed the 50,000-unit mark for monthly sales for only the fourth time in its history. Hyundai sold 54,106 vehicles in July, a 19-percent increase from July 2009.
"Although consumer confidence has dipped for a second month in a row, Hyundai continues to buck this trend," said Dave Zuchowski, Hyundai Motor America's vice president of national sales. "Consumer demand continues to significantly out-strip product availability at Hyundai dealerships."
The Hyundai Tucson scored a 234-percent increase in sales over a year ago; sales totaled 3,698 units. It was the fourth consecutive month that Tucson sales soared more than 200 percent from the year earlier.
Sales of the Elantra, being replaced in the coming months, and Sonata, introduced earlier this year, were up over 30 percent each from a year ago. Sales of the Genesis, Santa Fe and Veracruz were also up
So far this year, Hyundai already has surpassed the 300,000 mark, selling 309,888 vehicles, up 24 percent from same seven months during record-setting 2009.
"We remain very bullish about our prospects for the second half of this year as we substantially increase production to improve vehicle supply while launching four new products over the next five months," said Zuchowski.
Kia: Second Best Month Ever; Best for Sorento
Kia Motors America scored its second best monthly performance ever, on the heels of its best half ever. In July, Kia sold 35,419 vehicles, a 21-percent increase from July 2009.
Kia's performance "is evidence of the impact our new, design-led products are having on the Kia brand," said Kia Motors executive Byung Mo Ahn.
The redesigned 2011 Kia Sorento crossover remained the brand's best-selling model for the seventh straight month. The Soul, which is being advertised with the next edition of ads starring the hip-hopping hamsters, had a 65-percent sales boost. Also posting hefty increases were the Rio, Forte, Sedona and Borrego. Sales for the Sportage and Optima were down as both are winding down to make way for their upcoming replacements.
And that's not all from Kia. "While Sorento has been nothing short of a sales super star for the Kia brand, leading each month since its launch in January, the all-new 2011 Sportage CUV is arriving in dealer showrooms now and will continue our sales growth through the summer and fall," said Ahn. "And there are more new vehicles coming in the near future."
Already, Kia has surpassed the 200,000-unit mark this year, selling 205,488, up 16 percent from the same 2009 timeframe.
Subaru: Breaking Sales Records
Subaru of America Inc. announced its best July sales figures ever. The company sold 23,983 vehicles, a 10-percent jump over July 2009.
The prize for July sales -- 9,030 units -- went to the Subaru Outback. The company sold 3,208 units of its Legacy, a 37-percent improvement compared with July 2009.
"It was great to exceed and build on last year's record results considering that last year's Cash for Clunkers program was very successful for Subaru," said Tim Colbeck, senior vice president of sales for Subaru of America, Inc. "Our products continue to attract both loyal Subaru owners and a larger than ever group of conquest customers."
Meanwhile, Forester sales declined a percent, and Impreza and Tribeca sales dropped 36 and 66 percent, respectively.
Volkswagen: CC, Tiguan Boost July Sales
Volkswagen of America Inc. sold 23,880 vehicles in July, a 16-percent jump from July sales a year ago.
While sales were favorable for many of the company's models, the Volkswagen CC had a record month with 3,394 sales, a 140-percent increase over its June 2009 sales. The company sold 8,262 Jettas and more than 10,000 units when combined with its SportWagen model. Golf also had a record-breaking month with 1,889 sales.
Sales of the company's compact SUV Tiguan were 1,968, up 80.9 percent compared with June 2009. The Routan experienced a 24.7 percent jump in sales.
"A continued positive consumer response in July to our full line of vehicles has brought Volkswagen our thirteenth consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth and has provided another solid step in the right direction for our growth strategy," said Mark Barnes, interim-president of Volkswagen of America, Inc. "We have been saying for some time that Volkswagen's combination of design, fuel economy, safety and fun driving experience is perfect for the American market and it is clear that consumers are responding."
Volkswagen sales this year rose 28 percent compared to a year ago. With the exception of last August's Cash for Clunkers sale, July was the best sales month for Volkswagen since December 2005, the company reported.
BMW: 5 Series Attracts Buyers
The BMW Group in the United States sold 23,390 vehicles in July, partially on the strength of its new 5 Series.
"We're delighted to have the all-new 5 Series in the market, and just as we had hoped, the first full month results with this new car have been very positive," said Jim O'Donnell, president of BMW of North America, LLC.
"Current and new customers love it, our dealers would like to have even more," added O'Donnell. "What we've also seen is strong market demand once again for a vehicle with the size, performance and flexibility of our X5."
In July, vehiclesseeing the largest percentage increases included the 1 Series, up 53.3 percent to 1,392, and the X5, up 51 percent to 2,815. The 5 Series performed well with an increase of 10 percent to 2,724.
Sales of BMW brand vehicles increased 16 percent for a total of 19,064 vehicles from the 16,381 units sold last year.
Mini sold 4,326 vehicles, a drop of 11 percent from the 4,872 cars sold last year. The company said the drop in sales this year occurred because last year's Cash for Clunkers program boosted sales volumes unusually high in July and August.
Mazda North American Operations reported a 9-percent increase in sales for July 2010, with 20,732 vehicles sold.
The much-anticipated 2011 Mazda2 went on sale for the first time in the U.S. in late July, posting 38 sales. As the Mazda2 arrived in showrooms, the next size up model, the Mazda3, saw sales dip 1 percent.
Mazda's crossovers posted hefty gains: CX-7 sales were up 94 percent; CX-9 had its best-ever July with sales of 2,755 for a 48-percent gain.
Also up was the Mazda6, by 24 percent. MX-5 Miata sales rose 17 percent to 675 units. Mazda 5 sales were down while RX8 sales are nearly non-existent. Mazda sold only 94 of the rotary-engine sports car.
Year-to-date sales through July stood at 136,451 vehicles, up 14 percent.
Daimler: Smart Keeps Dragging Down Mercedes
German automaker Daimler AG reported July sales of 18,608 Mercedes-Benz and smart vehicles, a nearly 6 percent improvement from a year ago.
Mercedes sales were up 11 percent for the month to 17,367 cars and light trucks sold along with 681 Sprinter vans. July's strongest performer was the still relatively new E-Class, even though sales were down 2 percent to 5,462 sold. The C-Class was Mercedes' next bestseller with sales up 19 percent to 5,309 vehicles sold in July. The M-Class rounded out the top volume leaders with sales of 1,973 in July.
Showing strong gains in July were the R-Class crossover, up 772 percent; the GL Class SUV, up 40 percent; and the flagship S-Class sedan, up 22 percent. Mercedes also sold 47 of its newly launched supercar, the SLS AMG.
Smart continued to be a drag on the company's sales, with only 560 twofour models sold in July, a 61-percent decline from a year ago.
For the year so far, Daimler has sold 128,924 vehicles, up 16 percent from a year ago. Of those, Mercedes sold 125,015 for a 23-percent hike; smart has sold only 3,909 vehicles this year, a 61-percent decline for the year.
Audi: On Track for Record Sales
Coming off its best half for U.S. sales ever, Audi reported a strong July that puts it on track for a record year, the automaker said. July 2010 marked Audi's third-best July in its U.S. history
Audi's July sales totaled 7,817 vehicles, up 22 percent from a year ago. Strong year-over-year results were delivered by the Q5 crossover with an 89-percent sales increase to 1,930 vehicles; the A5 coupe and cabriolet, with a 21 percent gain; the A6, with 27-percent higher sales from a year ago; and the Q7, which gained 16 percent in sales.
Demand for the diesel-powered A3 TDI outpaced supply with inventories extremely low, Audi said.
"It is clear that Audi is continuing to gain momentum in the luxury vehicle market," said Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen. "Despite supply restrictions, we are confident that 2010 will leave Audi in the best position for yearly performance we have ever enjoyed in the U.S. market."
Audi reports 22% increase in July year-over-year U.S. sales; brand on track to set sales record in 2010.
For the year so far, Audi has sold 7,817 vehicles, an above industry rate of 27 percent gain.
Mitsubishi: U.S. Sales Rise
Mitsubishi Motors sold 5,648 cars and SUVs in July, compared with 4,847 the same month last year.
The 17-percent rise resulted from selling 3,970 cars, compared with 3,280 last year, and 1,678 SUVs versus 1,500 last July. Bestsellers in each category were the Lancer and the Outlander.
Jaguar Land Rover: New Models, Brisker Sales
Jaguar Land Rover North America announced U.S. sales in July of 3,808 for both of its brands, a 43-percent jump from a year ago.
Jaguar sold 1,516 units, up 93 percent from July 2009. The increase came from the redesigned XF, XK and XJ models. Land Rover sales hit 2,292 units, up 26 percent from 1,822 units in July 2009.
"In July our dealers continued to see improved business for both brands, driven by new products and exemplary customer care," said Jaguar Land Rover president Gary Temple. "On the Jaguar side, the availability of the new XJ sedan combined with Jaguar Platinum Coverage has driven increases across the line. At Land Rover, the redesigned LR4 seven seat SUV continues to be our most improved seller, while our Range Rovers remain highly popular."
Jaguar sold 630 2011 XJs, now in its second full month in dealerships. It sold 627 of the XF. The Jaguar XK coupe and convertible sports cars hit 259 sales in July, a 39-percent increase from 187 units last year.
Land Rover's U.S. sales increase was influenced by volume leader for July -- the Range Rover Sport, which sold 793 units. The re-designed 2010 LR4 saw a 220 percent sales jump to 522 units.
Porsche: Panamera, Cayenne Bump Up Sales
Porsche Cars North America Inc. announced July U.S. sales of 2,703 units, a 75 percent increase compared to the same month last year.
The company reported the best single-month sales in the United States since July 2008.
Pushing up sales the most was the four-door Panamera with 807 sales in July, its best month since it went on sale last October. Sales of the Cayenne SUV also increased to 910 units, up 68 percent from the previous year when sales were 541.
July is the end of Porsche's fiscal year. Despite a tough year with the U.S. economy, the automaker was up 17 percent with total sales of 22,180, compared with 19,024 in its previous fiscal year.
In the fall, the company will begin selling the all-new 2011 V6 Cayenne and a Cayenne S hybrid.
Suzuki: Steep Sales Decline
Suzuki sold 1,952 vehicles in July. That's a 44-percent drop from a year ago when the company sold 3,510 vehicles.
All models experienced declines. Equator pickup truck sales fell 67 percent, while XL7 and Forenza/Reno sales each dropped 98 percent.
It sold 592 of its 2010 Kizashi vehicles.
Saab: Sales Hit 470 vehicles in July
Saab Cars North America sold 470 vehicles in July.
Its 9-3 model led the pack with 456 sales. The 9-5 had eight sales, while the 9-7X model had six sales.
Dale Buss and Marti Benedetti are AutoObserver.com contributing writers; Michelle Krebs is Edmunds.com senior analyst and editor at large
Analysts Ivan Drury and assistant Jeremy Acevedo provided the analysis and graphics for this report; Mark Holthoff, manager of customer support, also supplied graphics.
Photos by Manufacturers
1 - Cadillac SRX
2 - Ford Fiesta
3 - Toyota Camry
4 - Acura ZDX
5 - Jeep Grand Cherokee
6 - Nissan Rogue
7 - Hyundai Tucson