DETROIT — As car sales in June continued to chug toward one of the industry's biggest sales years, shoppers eagerly snapped up a variety of vehicles, including the Chevrolet Trax, Dodge Challenger and Ford Mustang.
Two trends emerged as automakers reported June sales on Wednesday. Leasing is driving the sales of trucks and small cars continue to struggle.
"Leasing is bucking traditional sales trends by playing a bigger role in new truck sales," said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds.com director of industry analysis. "Even though trucks are leased at relatively lower rates, small truck leasing is up 34 percent from last June and large truck leasing is up 4 percent year over year."
Caldwell noted: "The industry's smallest cars continue to struggle. Subcompact cars average 99 days to turn last month, which is a near record high and 21 days higher than in June 2014. Small cars are feeling pressure from the new crop of compact and subcompact SUVs like Honda HR-V and Jeep Renegade, which have proven popular, especially with Baby Boomers."
Fiat-Chrysler recorded an 8 percent increase compared with sales in June 2014.
"Our all-new Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500X inventory started to arrive at dealerships in greater volume during June, positioning us well for the summer-selling season," said Reid Bigland, Fiat-Chrysler head of U.S. sales in a statement.
Ford's June sales edged up slightly compared to a year ago to 225,647 vehicles sold.
Ford said the 2015 F-150 is turning twice as fast on dealer lots then the industry average for half-ton pickups, as Ford continues building dealer stocks.
"Strong retail momentum continues building for our newest vehicles — including F-150, Mustang, Edge and now Explorer," said Mark LaNeve, Ford's vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, in a statement.
GM sales were down 3 percent overall, a drop attributed to a deliberate decline in fleet shipments. GM's retail sales climbed seven percent year over year.
"We just wrapped up the U.S. auto industry's best six months in a decade, driven by strong demand for pickups and crossovers," said Kurt McNeil, GM's U.S. vice president of sales operations, in a statement. "People feel good about their jobs and the direction the economy as a whole is taking, so the second half of the year should be strong, too."
The Chevrolet Trax had its best month since launch, Buick Encore deliveries were up 33 percent and the Chevrolet Silverado was up 18 percent.
"Light trucks have boosted the industry to its best first half since 2005," said Bill Fay, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager, in a statement.
Edmunds says: Healthy June car sales set the stage for what should be a banner year for U.S. automakers and dealers.