Ford to Chrysler U.S. sales climb as growth drivers seen intact

Nissan’s Growth

The projected growth in June probably was led by Nissan Motor Co. and Ford, according to analysts. Ford, Chrysler and GM paced much of the industry’s expansion through the first five months of the year, with all three gaining market share. The last time all three finished the first half of a year having increased share was 1993, according to Automotive News Data Center.

Ford has gained the most share of any automaker in the U.S. this year. Joe Hinrichs, the company’s head of the Americas, told reporters June 27 that industry sales may have slowed the preceding week and pinned it on signaling by the Fed.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said last month that the Fed will probably taper its $85 billion monthly bond-buying program later in 2013 and halt purchases around mid-2014, citing a slowly improving economy. Still, most members of the central bank committee don’t expect to begin raising the benchmark lending rate out of its lowest-ever range of zero to 0.25% until 2015.

‘Maybe Slowed’

“The industry was really strong in the first half of the month, but maybe slowed a bit in the last week,” Hinrichs said. “It will be interesting to watch where consumer confidence goes as the market kind of fluctuated in the last week and they talk around eventually higher interest rates, and what that means for consumers’ buying confidence.”

Nissan probably led all automakers with a 13% increase in U.S. sales, the average of eight estimates. The Yokohama, Japan-based company’s deliveries surged 25% in May, triple the industrywide increase, after cutting the price of seven models, including its top-selling Altima sedan.

Toyota sales probably rose 6.2%, the average of eight estimates. The Toyota City, Japan-based company sees stable rates for auto buyers in the near term, Bill Fay, group vice president for U.S. sales, said last month on Bloomberg Radio.

Cheap Financing

Honda Motor Co. deliveries may have climbed 10%, the average of eight estimates. Competitors may have a tougher time offering no-interest financing that Tokyo-based Honda Motor doesn’t offer once the Federal Reserve does begin raising interest rates, said John Mendel, Honda’s head of U.S. sales.

“If you’re a manufacturer that depends on zero percent financing to do your business, that proposition is going to get more and more expensive,” Mendel said last week in a telephone interview.

Combined sales for Hyundai Motor Co. and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp. may have slipped 1.7% in June, the average estimate of seven analysts. The Seoul-based carmakers have trailed industrywide sales growth in every month since September as they contend with production constraints and more competitive U.S. automakers.

Volkswagen AG, based in Wolfsburg, Germany, may post a 0.9% drop in combined sales for its VW and Audi brands in June, the average of four estimates.

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