Domestics do well again, Toyota and Honda falter

Many automakers had a positive month of sales in July, particularly the domestics, with Ford Motor Company up 3.11 percent, Chrysler Group up 4.96 percent and General Motors topping the charts with its four core brands up an impressive 24.58 percent to lead all automakers. Even with the loss of four marques (Saturn, Pontiac, Hummer and Saab), GM managed to outsell the company's entire portfolio of eight brands from last July by 5.41 percent. Of course, The General's sales weren't exactly setting the charts on fire last summer (they were down 19 percent compared to July 2008), so the bar was set low.

Something you can't see in our table below is what appears to be a developing shift away from small and mid-size cars to trucks and CUVs in the marketplace. Blame the shift in consumer tastes to pent-up demand for utility vehicles, higher used car prices and, as always, lower gas prices. Still, we can't help but cringe at the site of large vehicles, be they trucks, SUVs or CUVs, selling well, knowing that gas prices are cyclical and another spike in the price of oil could be right around the corner.

Interestingly, this shift comes as America's small car segment is enjoying more new products than any time in recent memory, with a raft of compelling fresh models from Ford, Chevrolet, Mazda and others hitting the marketplace. These brands would appear to be well-placed to meet the demand for small cars if fuel prices rise precipitously, but any automaker in the business of selling economy cars is going to need strong, steady demand if it hopes to make money on what are historically very low (or no) margin models.

UPDATE: A few of you have reminded us that July 1, 2009 was the beginning of the U.S. government's Car Allowance Rebate System, or Cash for Clunkers program as the people called it. One side effect of the program was that sales of smaller, more fuel efficient cars was artificially boosted while the program was running. While we still don't discount the steady price of gasoline and other factors contributing to increased sales of larger vehicles like trucks and SUVs, the Cash for Clunkers program helps explain why sales of many popular small cars appear to have taken a nose dive last month.

Here are just a few examples that illustrate the shift that might be happening in consumer taste towards larger vehicles:

Honda Civic: -25.5% (23,231)
Honda Pilot: 45.4% (9,570)

Toyota Prius: -29.2% (14,102)
Toyota Sequoia: 50.5% (1,233)

Ford Focus: -29.4% (15,417)
Ford F-Series: 38.9% (50,449)

Nissan Cars: -3.7% (44,343)
Nissan Trucks/SUVs: 51% (28,230)

Honda Odyssey: 37.8% (9,711)
Toyota Sienna: 41.5% (10,381)
Chrysler Town & Country: 18% (8,083)


Brand/Company Vol. % July 2010 July 2009 DSR* % July 2010 July 2009
Cadillac 141.76 14,919 6,171 132.81 553 237
Buick 136.64 16,799 7,099 127.87 622 273
Porsche 75.06 2,703 1,544 68.58 100 59
Acura 50.28 13,017 8,662 44.71 482 333
Infiniti 37.60 9,764 7,096 32.50 362 273
GMC 27.16 27,798 21,860 22.45 1,030 841
Mitsubishi 25.87 5,648 4,487 21.21 209 173
Audi 22.01 7,817 6,407 17.49 290 246
Kia 20.70 35,419 29,345 16.23 1,312 1,129
Jeep 18.81 26,466 22,276 14.41 980 857
Hyundai 18.78 54,106 45,553 14.38 2,004 1,752
BMW 16.38 19,064 16,381 12.07 706 630
Volkswagen 15.97 23,880 20,591 11.68 884 792
Nissan 12.08 72,573 64,751 7.93 2,688 2,490
Chevrolet 11.98 139,916 124,948 7.83 5,182 4,806
Ram 10.86 21,239 19,158 6.76 787 737
Subaru 9.82 23,983 21,839 5.75 888 840
Mazda 8.93 20,732 19,032 4.90 768 732
Ford 8.07 153,603 142,135 4.07 5,689 5,467
Mercedes-Benz 7.02 17,367 16,228 3.06 643 624
Lexus 0.42 18,595 18,517 -3.30 689 712
Dodge -0.00 30,916 30,917 -3.71 1,145 1,189
Toyota -3.66 150,629 156,355 -7.23 5,579 6,014
Honda -6.23 99,420 106,028 -9.71 3,682 4,078
Mini -11.21 4,326 4,872 -14.50 160 187
Chrysler -11.22 14,692 16,549 -14.51 544 637
Lincoln -16.28 5,586 6,672 -19.38 207 257
Mercury -31.18 6,903 10,031 -33.73 256 386
Volvo -32.95 4,319 6,441 -35.43 160 248
Suzuki -44.39 1,952 3,510 -46.45 72 135
Smart -60.51 560 1,418 -61.97 21 55
(Hummer) -73.72 210 799 -74.69 8 31
(Saturn) -99.50 30 5,968 -99.52 1 230
(Pontiac) -99.91 20 22,024 -99.91 1 847
(Saab) -100.00 0 574 -100.00 0 22
COMPANIES
GM (Core) 24.58 199,432 160,078 19.97 7,386 6,157
Nissan North America 14.60 82,337 71,847 10.36 3,050 2,763
BMW Group 10.06 23,390 21,253 5.98 866 817
General Motors 5.41 199,692 189,443 1.51 7,396 7,286
Chrysler Group 4.96 93,313 88,900 1.08 3,456 3,419
Ford Motor Company 3.11 170,411 165,279 -0.71 6,312 6,357
American Honda -1.96 112,437 114,690 -5.60 4,164 4,411
Toyota Mo Co -3.23 169,224 174,872 -6.81 6,268 6,726
*Brands and companies are displayed in descending order according to their percentage change in volume sales. There were 27 selling days in July 2010 versus 26 selling days in July 2009, so the change in monthly sales volume will be different than the change average daily sales rate (DSR) for each brand/company.