It was hard to find a bright spot for auto investors in July’s auto sales figures released earlier today with GM down 15% YoY, Ford off 7% and Chrysler down 11%.
The companies blamed the drops on lower fleet sales but GM’s retail sales also fell 14.4% from July 2016. Meanwhile, Ford and Fiat Chrysler retail sales had single-digit declines, and their fleet sales fell 26% and 35%, respectively.
Here’s a recap of how each of the largest OEM’s made out in July:
Three of GM’s four brands posted double-digit sales declines in July with Chevrolet down 15%, Cadillac down 22% and Buick plunging 31%.
While GM blamed weak fleet sales for their abysmal month, their retail sales declined 14% as well.
The Chevy Spark minicar withered, falling 81.9% to 764 units for the month, while the Chevy Sonic subcompact car declined 47.3% to 2,552.
Ford retail sales fell 1% while fleet sales declined 26%.
Ford’s flagship brand fell 8%, while the luxury Lincoln brand declined 2.5%.
Car sales were off 19%, including a 13% decline for the Ford Fiesta subcompact and a 42% decline for the Fusion mid-size car.
All of Chrysler’s major brands, except Ram, were down double digits. Jeep was down 12%, Chrysler 30%, Dodge 12% and Fiat 18%. Ram sales were flat.
Retail sales were down 6%, while fleet sales were down 35%.
The Japanese automaker soared past expectations for a surprise sales gain. The company’s flagship Toyota brand and luxury Lexus brand were each up 3.6%.
With the strong sales performance, Toyota surpassed Ford in July as the nation’s second-largest automaker for the month, behind only GM.
Toyota’s passenger cars were weak, down 12% for the month, while sales of crossovers, pickups and SUVs rose 17%.
Despite the extreme declines at the domestic OEM’s, the overall SAAR continued to hover around 17mm units, reaffirming, at least for now, Ford’s assertion that sales will ‘plateau’ at current levels.
That said, overall inventory levels remain elevated despite the fact that incentive spending set a new record of $3,876 per unit in the month of July. Per J.D. Power:
Average incentive spending per unit to date in July is $3,876 per unit, a record for July, and surpassing the previous high for the month of $3,597, set in July 2016. Spending on trucks and SUVs is $3,700, up $194 from last year. Spending on cars is $4,174, up $436.
Incentives as a percentage of MSRP are at 10.8% so far in July, exceeding the 10% level for 12th time in the past 13 months
Meanwhile, GM’s inventory continues to be the most bloated of all the OEMs with 939,831 cars still parked in dealer lots all across the country…equal to 104 days of supply.
Of course, as silly as it may seem, some analysts still found a way to be upbeat about the industry. Per Detroit News:
“The fundamentals in the industry are still very, very strong,” said Kelley Blue Book analyst Alec Gutierrez. Big-picture indicators like fuel prices, employment levels within the industry and customer satisfaction are all at healthy leavels.
At a gathering of auto officials in Traverse City on Tuesday, several analysts delivered a similar message on the state of the industry: “The sky is not falling.”
Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of global forecasting for LMC Automotive, said despite sales numbers out of North America, there are reasons for optimism overall.
“Transaction prices are up, that’s a very positive thing…,” he said. “We’re looking at over $31,000 on average – up over a percent.”
But Ford and GM shareholders are starting to lose faith…
…as are investors in the suppliers.
Oh well, we’re sure this is just a temporary pause…the second half is sure to be better.