Consumers jumped back into auto dealers' showrooms in July, helping to reverse June's slowdown in sales.
Consumers jumped back into auto dealers’ showrooms in July, helping to reverse June’s slowdown in sales.
“Generally speaking, the numbers we are seeing coming out of July are a positive sign,” said Jeff Schuster, an analyst for J.D. Power and Associates. “But I don’t think that says everything is back on track. We are going to see this volatility and up-and-down movement for some time.”
General Motors said its sales rose 25 percent in July compared with the same month a year earlier, after factoring out the Pontiac, Hummer, Saturn and Saab brands it closed or sold as part of its bankruptcy reorganization last summer.
The automaker saw July as a good month, but a GM official cautioned that it took several months to spot any trend.
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“July’s results are a positive signal,” said Don Johnson, GM’s vice president of U.S. sales. Although they don’t show the economy has “incredible strength,” he added, the results do show “the recovery is still on track.”
Automakers were helped by the calendar. July started with a holiday weekend and included five Saturdays, which was good for car shopping. Easing credit conditions for consumers also helped push sales, GM officials said.
The analyst believes GM and other domestic auto companies have survived the worst of the industry downturn. Ford, he said, was picking up market share on the strength of its new models. Although Chrysler’s sales have not been as strong as those of its domestic rivals this year, its integration with Fiat, the Italian automaker, is proceeding and will start to pay off with new models over the next year or so.
“Everyone is in a much more positive position than they were a year ago,” Schuster said.
Ford sales rose, but the gain wasn’t as strong as for other automakers. The company said sales rose 4.6 percent, after factoring out Volvo. Ford completed its sale of Volvo to Geely Group of China on Monday. Including Volvo, sales rose 3.1 percent to 170,411.
Chrysler Group said its July sales rose 5 percent from a year ago. It’s the fourth consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases for the automaker, which has lagged Ford’s and GM’s sales gains for most of the year.
Other automakers posted bigger gains.
Hyundai said its sales rose 19 percent in July. That was the South Korean company’s best July figure ever.