Counting Cars

July Light Vehicle SAAR Continues to Top 14 million

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GM grabbed its third-lowest market share ever, in July, while Japanese companies, led by Honda's 57.4% hike in daily sales, registered huge increases over stock-depleted year-ago results.But European auto makers also saw significant growth, with VW and Audi even outpacing Toyota in year-over-year gains.

July 2012 Light Vehicle Sales Volume:
WardsAuto forecast: 1.168 million units
Actual: 1.150 million
1.5% differential.

July 2012 Light Vehicle SAAR:
WardsAuto forecast: 14.26 million
Actual: 14.05 million

U.S. Light Vehicle sales in July equated to another 14 million-plus SAAR, on 1.15 million deliveries, directly in line with the year-to-date SAAR.

Japanese companies, as expected, showed huge increases over their stock-depleted year-ago results, led by Honda's 57.4% hike in daily sales.

South Korea's Hyundai and Kia brands both showed impressive growth in daily sales over year-ago, with respective gains of 12.8% and 14.5%.

Collectively, daily deliveries of Asia Pacific brand light vehicles were up 29.1% for the month. 

But European auto makers also enjoyed significant growth, with VW and Audi outpacing Toyota in year-over-year gains. BMW  increased its DSR 12.6% for the month, while Jaguar Land Rover's DSR rose 23.6%.

GM accounted for just 17.5% of LV sales in July, the company's third-lowest market share ever. GM's daily sales were up just 1.4% over year-ago July, far below expectations, and reflecting a significant drop in fleet sales for the month - the acknowledged wildcard in summer sales forecasts.

The year-over-year daily sales comparison was the company's worst since February's 3% decline in DSR.

GM's retail sales fell too, though not quite as much, which has to hurt given all the Olympic advertising the company purchased for Chevy, touting not only its products but its confidence pricing and new return policy.

GM"s Cadillac sales were up significantly though, giving the recently beleagured brand a shot in the arm even before its heavily advertised new ATS model becomes available. Whle the brand's sales are down 12.6% through the first seven months of 2012, the appearance of the new XTS on dealer lots helped push daily sales for Cadillac up more than 30% in July compared to same-month year ago. 

Ford sales were up 3.8% on a daily basis, coming in just below expectations. The BEA released its factors for calculating July's seasonally adjusted annual sales rate today, lifting Ward's projected SAAR to 14.265 million units at the beginning of the reporting day.

Note that Ward's looks at sales results versus year-ago on a Daily Sales Rate basis. July 2012 had 24 selling days, while year-ago July had 26 selling days. With that in mind, % change DSR will be higher than straight year-over-year volume comparisons often cited elsewhere.

Chrysler's light vehicle DSR was up 21.8%, helping lift the overall Detroit 3 sales rate 6.8% over like-2011.

Japanese company results come against a year-ago plagued by production problems and inventory reductions caused by the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March last year..

Nissan reproted total sales of 98,341, lifting its DSR 25.9%.

Toyota reported LV sales of just under 165K, up 36.6% over year-ago DSR, as the company improved its retail sales compared to earlier months this year, but pulled back on the heavier than usual fleet sales that resulted from pentup demand due to 2011 stock shortages.

July sales brought the YTD delivery total for 2012 to 8.4 million units, a 14% increase over 2011's seven-month volume.

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John Sousanis

John Sousanis oversees WardsAuto data operations as Director of Information Content, and is Ward’sAuto sales analyst. Follow John on Twitter @CountingCars.  

Haig Stoddard

Haig Stoddard is a veteran automotive industry analyst. His current focus is North America production and longterm sales forecasting.
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