- The 2014 Ford Fusion, Jeep Wrangler and Nissan Versa are among the noteworthy performers in the sizzling July auto sales report.
- The 2014 Buick Encore and Hyundai Sonata Hybrid also were stars in showrooms in July.
- "You can't underestimate how important dealer financing has been to this automotive recovery," said Jessica Caldwell, an Edmunds senior analyst.
In short, the U.S. auto industry is in the midst of a healthy recovery.
"You can't underestimate how important dealer financing has been to this automotive recovery," said Jessica Caldwell, an Edmunds senior analyst. "It's attractive enough when a dealer offers zero percent APR, but now it's more common to see zero percent for as many as 72 months, which was virtually unheard of not too long ago. These are offers that outside lenders simply cannot match and make straight cash purchases futile."
Only about 23 percent of car buyers have purchased with cash or outside financing this year as opposed to dealer financing and leasing.
Among the highlights of the glowing July sales report:
· Chrysler reported U.S. sales of 167,667 units, a 20 percent increase compared with sales in July 2013.
· Ford's retail sales totaled 162,028 vehicles, up 7 percent.
· GM said retail sales were up 4 percent, despite ongoing recalls.
· Hyundai reported its best July sales ever at 67,011 units and the best all-time month for Sonata Hybrid.
GM sales were among the most closely watched in the industry.
"The marketplace has spoken and it's clear that GM owners still have a lot of faith in the brand," Caldwell said. "GM owners are impressed by the content of the brand's new cars compared to their old vehicles and that's gone a long way toward reinforcing loyalty. Incentives are also playing a big part in keeping these owners in the Chevy family."
Edmunds notes that 48 percent of Chevrolet Cobalt trade-ins in June went toward a new GM product.
Many of the individual sales reports had a jubilant tone.
"The July 4th holiday got sales off to a great start and the pace remained solid all month," said Fred Diaz, senior vice president of Nissan's U.S. sales & marketing and operations, in a statement. "Strong performances by Versa, Sentra and Rogue — and the best July for Leaf — drove Nissan's sales to our best July on record."
Chrysler reported a new all-time monthly sales record in July for the Fiat 500L. Wrangler sales were up 14 percent and seven Chrysler Group vehicles set sales records in July. They are the Wrangler, Jeep Compass, Dodge Dart, Dodge Challenger, Dodge Journey and Ram Cargo Van.
Ford reported that the Ford F-Series pickup trucks "again topped the 60,000-vehicle sales market." The Dearborn automaker reported "great initial demand for our launch vehicles, such as the Transit Connect, Transit Connect Wagon and the Lincoln MKC as availability builds."
John Felice, Ford vice president for U.S. marketing, sales and service, noted that the Ford Escape and Fusion "were big contributors to our sales increases."
GM said sales of the Encore increased 28 percent compared with July 2013 and Cadillac Escalade deliveries nearly doubled.
"Sales of utility vehicles soared in July because American families feel better about the economy than they have in a long time," said Kurt McNeil, GM's U.S. vice president of sales operations.
Edmunds says: Car shoppers flooded showrooms in July, as the big momentum in U.S. auto industry sales continues.