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June 2014 U.S. Sales Thread (FINAL): Luxury Vehicles, Large Trucks Boost SAAR to 95-Month High

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For the second consecutive month, U.S. automakers dramatically outpaced projections, unexpectedly besting May's seasonally-adjusted sales rate and achieving the highest monthly SAAR since July 2006.

June 2014 Light Vehicle Sales Volume:
WardsAuto forecast LV Sales:         1.37 million units
Actual June LV Sales:                      1.41 million units

3.4% differential

June 2014 Light Vehicle SAAR:
WardsAuto forecast LV SAAR:         16.37 million
Actual June LV SAAR:                      16.92 million

WardsAuto tracks light-vehicle (LV) deliveries throughout sales reporting day. Monthly year-over-year change represents the change in daily sales rate (DSR). June had 24 selling days this year and 26 in 2013. The extra day means DSR % change will be lower than reported % change in sales volumes this month.  

FINAL UPDATE - 2:45 PM: For the second consecutive month, U.S. automakers outpaced expectations, delivering sales at a higher seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales (SAAR) than called for by consensus forecasts.

With all automakers reporting, the U.S. LV SAAR for June climbed to 16.9 million units - the highest monthly LV SAAR since July 2006. Industry forecasts, including WardsAuto's, had called for the June SAAR to near, but not reach, May's 94-month-high 16.71 million-unit SAAR.  

But strong truck sales (bolstered by robust sales to commercial fleets) and better than expected gains for European luxury brands boosted total deliveries to 1.414 million units - a 9.6% DSR improvement compared with same month year-ago.

GM and Chrysler, bolstered by strong light truck sales, both outpaced WardsAuto's forecast (with Ford finishing in line with expectations), as European luxury brands Audi, Daimler and BMW.  Collectively, Asia-based automakers equaled expectations, though Hyundai, which posted its best June sales ever, trounced analyst projections with a 12.3% DSR gain over like-2013.

Asia automakers accounted for a collective 44.7% market share in June, up slightly from a year-ago share of 44.3%. The Detroit 3, meanwhile, had a 46.3% market share , down from 46.6% a year ago. GM's 18.9% share was flat, while Chrysler's 12.% take was an improvement over year-ago (11.2%) and Ford lost a full share point, taking 15.4% of the market.

Despite the strong performance of German luxury brands, Europe automakers, primarily due to Volkswagen's downturn, saw a decline in overall share from 9.1% to 8.9%.

June sales bring total U.S. light-vehicle deliveries for the first six months of 2014 to 8.12 million, up 4.2% over same-period year-ago.

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COMPANY RESULTS:

1:45 PM: Honda was among the few automakers to fall below expectations, delivering 129,023 LVs in June - up 2.1% versus year-ago. Honda's midsize Accord DSR was up 10.6%, compared to segment-competitors Hyundai Sonata (up 40.3%) and Toyota Camry (+22.8%). Honda division sales were up 3.6%, but Honda's overall sales suffered from an 11.8% drop in daily sales of the automaker's Acura vehicles. Through June Honda deliveries are down 0.8%, making Honda the only Asian automaker to show a YTD year-over-year decline.

Subaru's June DSR rose 14.2% over year-ago, while year-to-date sales for AWD-vehicle specialist are up 16.3%.

1:00 PM: Strong Sonata sales helped Hyundai achieve its best ever June, with total deliveries of 67,407 units - a 12.3% DSR gain versus same-month 2013. The automaker's January-June total is also its best ever, standing 0.9% above same-period year-ago.

Daimler sold 29,400 LVs, including Smart, Sprinter and Mercedes-Benz brands. Mercedes-Benz' 151,624 deliveries through June represents the luxury brand's highest six-month total ever and a 6.8% increase over year-ago. Daimler's total LV sales are up 7.6% compared with year-ago.

12:40 PM: BMW delivered 35,577 BMW and Mini brand cars and light trucks in June, a better-than-expected 14.6% DSR uptick, that underscores the continued strength of the luxury segment in the U.S. BMW's YTD sales are up 5.1% 

Kia reported 50,644 deliveries, lifting its daily sales rate 8.6% over year-ago. The results were in line with projections, as the South Korean automaker finished the first-half of 2014 7.2% ahead of same-period year-ago.

12:00 Noon: Mazda deliveries were up 26.2% on a daily basis in June. The automakers 26,208 deliveries were in line with WardsAuto's forecast, and left Mazda with a YTD year-over-year gain of 7.9% through June.

11:00 AM: Ford sold 217,119 LVs in June, a 1.8% decline in sales volume equating to a modest 2.3% increase in daily sales compared with same-month 2013. The automaker lost market share to the industry as well as to its Detroit 3 competitors, both of whom registered sizable year-over-year gains. Ford's YTD sales are tracking 1.8% below same-period year-ago.

Much of Ford's year-over-year decline this month is attributable to slowing F-Series sales. The company has pulled back incentives on the large pickup in order to manage inventory in anticipation of extended production downtime later this year associated with the company's changeover to the next generation F-Series.

10:30 AM: Nissan delivered 109,643 Nissan and Infiniti brand LVs in June, a 14.1% DSR gain over year-ago, in line with expectations. Nissan's YTD sales are up 12.8% through June.

Volkswagen brand vehicles slightly outperformed WardsAuto's forecast for the month, but still showed a 15.5% year-over-year decline on a daily basis, delivering 28,827 vehicles in June. VW's YTD sales trail first-half 2014 by 13.4%.

As has been the case all year, Volkswagen's sales slump was offset somewhat by a strong performance from sister-automaker Audi. The luxury-sport vehicle maker delivered 16,867 units in June - a 33.3% increase in daily sales - boosting YTD sales 13.6% ahead of year-ago.

10:00 AM: Toyota reported 201,714 lv sales in June, an 11.9% improvement in daily sales, directly in line with WardsAuto expectations. Toyota brand deliveries were up 11% versus same-month year-ago, while Lexus brand sales climbed 19.3%. The automakers total LV deliveries for the first six-months of 2014 are up 5.1% versus like-2013.

9:30 AM: General Motors reported LV sales of 267,461 units, far outpacing industry expectations, and besting year-ago DSR by 9.4%. Buick and GMC brands both registered double-digit gains versus year-ago, with modest gains in DSR coming from Chevrolet and Cadillac.  Chevrolet showed a 2.5% volume decline vs. same-month 2013, while Escalade trucks, with some help from the SRX , carried Cadillac to a year-over-year gain in daily sales despite declines in ATS, CTS and XTS deliveries. GM's YTD sales volume through June is 2.5% over like-2013.

9:15 AM: Fiat-Chrysler announced its 51st consecutive month of year-over-year sales volume gains. The automaker delivered 170,325 light vehicles in June, beating expectations by nearly 5% and crushing the company's year-ago DSR by 18.2%. Fiat-Chrysler YTD sales are running 12.2% above same-period year-ago.

Trucks played a key role in Chrysler's performance, with the company's Jeep brand posting its best June sales ever and Ram Truck achieving its best June sales in 10 years. Dodge and Fiat brands also posted DSR gains. Only FCA's Chrysler brand experienced a year-over-year downturn, with daily sales falling 4.5% for the month.

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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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