GM Sales Up, Ford Down and Chrysler Even

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – July brought mixed results for American automakers with monthly sales reports showing retail gains for General Motors Co., losses for Ford Motor Co. and an even keel for Fiat Chrysler Automobles.

General Motors reported retail sales of its four brands increased 5% from July 2015 to 236,235. Collectively, the company said in its monthly sales statement, it was the best July for its brands since 2007. Total sales for the company, which includes vehicles sold for rental fleets, were down nearly 2% to 267,258 after GM decided to hold back on fleet sales.

Chevrolet retail sales totaled 154,305 in July, a 3% climb from a year ago, while total sales were down 5.3% to 178,820 as the brand reeled from the pullback in rental sales. Among the hardest hit models was the Lordstown-built Cruze, whose sales were down 35.7% to 13,723. Despite the drop in sales, the Cruze was still Chevy’s fourth-best selling vehicle – and its best selling car – behind the Silverado, with 54,116 sold, the Equinox, 21,882, and the Traverse, 15,173.

The remaining three GM brands – Buick, Cadillac and GMC – all reported an increase in total sales. Buick posted a 10.4% increase from a year ago as 22,960 vehicles were delivered, while GMC was up 4.8% to 51,137 and Cadillac climbed 1.3% to 14,341.

Ford posted a 2.8% drop in new vehicle sales for July with 216,479 cars, trucks and SUVs delivered. Sales of the Ford brand were down 2.7% to 207,381 while the Lincoln nameplate declined 4.6% to 9,098.

Leading sales for the Ford brand was its F-series line of pickup trucks with 65,657 leaving showrooms, a 1% fall. Its top-selling car was the Fusion, 24,007 sold, while the Escape led SUV models with 26,260 sold.

Sales for Lincoln were topped by the MXZ with 2,968 sold, followed closely by two models of SUVs, the MKX and MKC, with 2,656 and 2,138 sold, respectively.

Fiat Chrysler reported a minimal increase in sales across its six brands as 180,727 vehicles left showrooms last month, just 603 more than the same period last year.

Late last month, it was announced that Fiat Chrysler was under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice into the company’s method of reporting sales. After an internal investigation, FCA announced its streak of 75 consecutive months of year-over-year sales gains ended at 41 months in September 2013.

The mistake, the company said in a statement, was mostly the result of a practice known as “unwinding,” where sales were reported before being cancelled and returned to a dealer’s inventory. FCA reported the practice accounted for about 4,500 vehicles reported as sold between 2011 and 2016, or 0.06% of all cars sold over that time. In some cases, the sales legitimately fell through, while at other times, dealers were found to be selling vehicles to their own fleet and counting the sale.

FCA has revised its sales totals going back to 2011, adding a net gain of nearly 19,000 vehicles sold, most of which were added to 2014’s results, where 14,966 sales were added. Overall, FCA found it underreported its sales in 2011 and 2015, while over reporting sales in 2012 through 2014 and so far this year.

Of its American brands, Jeep led sales with 79,246 vehicles sold, a 5% increase, topped by the Wrangler, of which 18,741 were sold. The Ram pickup line was the only other U.S.-based brand to post a year-over-year gain as sales were up 5% to 44,069.

The Chrysler nameplate fell 4% to 19,095 and was led by the Pacifica SUV, accounting for 7,911 of the vehicles sold, while the Dodge nameplate fell 10% to 35,520 cars sold. Leading sales for Dodge was the Caravan with 10,055 delivered.

Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.