June Saw Auto Sales Busting Out All Over

Maybe it was something in the water, or in a gallon of gasoline. Whatever the cause, June wound up to be a remarkably strong month for auto sales with crossovers and smaller cars helping some brands reach record sales and others post incremental increases, and turning the fortunes for those who have been struggling.

Mitsubishi, which was counted as all but dead last year, had its best June in four years, with sales up 30% because of (comparatively) strong sales of its Outlander crossover, and Lancer and Galant sedans. Volkswagen, which had its own problems last year saw, its best month since last August, with sales up 15%, to 23,127 vehicles versus June last year.

Cars and crossovers trumped trucks and SUVs. Ford continues to get traction with its Edge crossover, which helped keep Ford's needle above the peg in June.

Ford, Lincoln and Mercury posted their first positive retail sales in June since October 2006. Total Ford sales were 247,599, down 8%, which the company said was due to a 39% lowering of sales of Ford vehicles to rental fleets. Ford, Lincoln and Mercury crossovers were up 83%. Among the new crossovers, Ford said its Edge accounted for 12,470 units and Lincoln's MKX crossover accounted for 3,400 vehicles sold last month. The company says its Escape and Mariner compact SUVs set sales records last month as well. Ford says it sold 19,147 Escapes, up 33% versus the month last year, and 3,788 Mariners.



Chrysler Group posted a 1% decrease in sales last month. The Auburn Hills, Mich., unit of - at least for now - DaimlerChrysler sold 185,946 vehicles last month. While Chrysler-division cars were up 104%, Dodge's car sales were up 30% and Jeep up 19%, the group was slowed by slack sales of its larger SUVs and trucks. Like Ford, Chrysler benefited from strong sales of crossovers and smaller vehicles.

Notably, Chrysler Group's vehicle inventory is down 25%, to 71 days of supply.

Toyota posted best-ever first half sales of 1,331,074 vehicles, with June sales at 245,739 cars and trucks, up 6.1% versus last June. The company sold 21,727 units of its redesigned Tundra, a full-sized pickup truck, an increase of 137.2%, versus sales of the older version last year.

Toyota divisional cars accounted for sales of 128,239 vehicles, nearly a 5% increase over last June, with Camry posting best-ever sales of 46,630 units, up 8.4% versus the month last year. Toyota's Prius hybrid saw a 76.3% increase in sales last month.

Honda also posted record June sales, selling 140,935 cars and trucks in the U.S., a 7.3% increase versus the month last year, with the strongest increases for the CR-V compact SUV, of which Honda sold 19.715 vehicles, a 53.2% increase and sixth consecutive record-sales month for the vehicle. Also, Civic posted record sales of 36,512, up 33.6%, and the subcompact Fit was up 44.3%, to 5,613 vehicles.

Nissan, which had seen a year of slumping sales in 2006, had an 18.2% improvement in sales last month, with Nissan division up 19.4% and sibling Infiniti up 9.3%.

Korean brand Hyundai posted a record June as well, with sales of 49,368 vehicles, up 11% versus last June. The Santa Fe compact SUV was up 37%, and the Sonata sedan was up 28% last month.

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