GM to Toyota gains keep U.S. on pace for best sales since 2007

General Motors Co., Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. led automakers reporting U.S. vehicle sales gains for July, extending a resurgence that’s putting the market on course for its best year since 2007.

GM deliveries rose 16%, with all four of its brands advancing, while Honda’s climbed 21% and Toyota’s increased 17% to surpass Ford Motor Co. for the month. Light vehicle sales for Ford, Chrysler Group LLC and Nissan Motor Co. all gained 11%.

Low interest rates and competitive lease deals are helping boost new-car sales as Americans tend to buy vehicles based on monthly payments. Industry demand remains on pace for its best showing in six years as consumers replace the oldest cars and trucks ever on U.S. roads. That’s spurring purchases of Detroit automakers’ more-competitive cars and fuel-efficient pickups.

“We’ve got a very old fleet on the road,” Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive, said today on Bloomberg Television. “There’s no question a lot of what we’re seeing right now is that demand coming back.”

U.S. car and light truck sales climbed 14% in July to 1.32 million, according to Autodata Corp. The industry trailed the 1.33 million average estimate of nine analysts in a survey by Bloomberg News.

The annualized industry sales rate, adjusted for seasonal trends, was 15.7 million, missing the 15.8 million average of 15 estimates. The selling pace accelerated from 14.1 million a year earlier.

The industry’s sales pace for the month keeps the U.S. on track for its best year since 16.1 million vehicles were sold in 2007. It’s also more proof of the diverging fortunes of the American auto industry and the city of Detroit, which filed the nation’s largest municipal bankruptcy in history last month.

Shares Rise

GM rose 1.7% to $36.47 at the close in New York, while Ford gained 1.8% to $17.19. Ford has surged 33% this year while GM has jumped 27%, both outpacing the 20% gain by Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. The S&P 500 reached an all-time high today.

Deliveries of GM’s Chevrolet Impala surged 38% to 12,915, according to an e-mailed statement. The Detroit-based automaker is winding down sales of an outgoing version as the 2014 model receives accolades from Consumer Reports. The magazine rated the Impala the best sedan on the market -- a first for a U.S. automaker in at least 20 years.

Chrysler, majority-owned by Fiat SpA, extended its streak of U.S. sales gains to 40 months. The Auburn Hills, Michigan- based company, is introducing a new Jeep Cherokee sport-utility vehicle in this year’s second half to keep the momentum going.

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