After June Gloom, Fog Fails to Lift For Rising Sun Brands

By Matthew Askari | August 02, 2011
It was another forgettable month for automakers from the Land of the Rising Sun. July sales for most manufacturers were well below year-over-year and year-to-date figures, affected mostly by supply shortages as a result of the March earthquake and tsunami.
Though some manufacturers reported strong consumer demand, July can swing far from average in either direction, for manufacturers that release new models in August, though economic fear and high unemployment continue to plague the US market.
Toyota Motor Sales: Sales of the three combined Toyota brands declined sharply from a year ago as the automaker continues to fight a slow economy, tarnished image, and recovering inventory. While a few models had increased sales from the previous year, overall numbers were down in every category. The Toyota division's passenger car sales were down 28.3 percent from July last year, but Toyota's light trucks fared a little better, down 8.3 percent from the same period last year. Lexus passenger car sales were down 7.7 percent, while the luxury brand's light truck sales were pummeled, losing 29.2 percent year over year. The one bright spot for Lexus was hybrid sales, up 71.5 percent over July 2010 figures. Youthful intender brand Scion also fell, down 21.9 percent from July 2010.
  • The Toyota Camry and Camry Hybrid once again led sales with 27,016 units, down 20 percent from last year.
  • The Toyota Sienna led the light truck category with 10,620 units sold, followed by the Highlander with 9,552 units sold.
  • Toyota Highlander sales were up 27 percent while RAV4 sales were down 42.7 percent.
  • The Lexus HS Hybrid gave Lexus some positive news, with sales nearly doubling, up 92.6 percent from July, 2010.
  • Lexus light truck sales were down sharply, with the Lexus RX's 30.4 percent dip accounting for most of that.
  • The Scion tC was the lone bright spot with an increase from 1294 to 1590 units sold.
Nissan North America: The Nissan brand's sales were up 6.4 percent from a year ago, commendable considering the global economy. However, Infiniti's numbers dropped sharply from the previous July, down 24.1 percent. The Altima continued to lead the way for Nissan as sales increased year over year.
  • The Nissan Leaf and Juke, new to the lineup for 2011, sold 931 units and 3221 respectively.
  • Sales of the Nissan 370Z were down 43.6 percent.
  • Nissan truck sales were up 6 percent from July 2010.
  • Infiniti had no bright spots, with decreases for all models from the previous year.
American Honda Motor Co.: Both the Honda and Acura divisions were down for July, where every vehicle but the Pilot and the Element declined by at least 15 percent. Overall, Honda sold 71,100 vehicles in July, down 25.7 percent compared to July 2010, but is only down 2.3 percent year-to-date. Acura didn't do much better, as its 9402 total July sales are a 25 percent decline from last July. However, its year-to-date sales are only down 5.5 percent.
  • Pilot sales remained strong at 8 percent growth over July 2010, despite a new model coming for 2012.
  • Accord sales one year ago were second in segment to Camry; this month's 2011 figure of 18,308 was 25.1 percent lower than July 2010, and bested by Fusion, Sonata, Altima, and Camry.
  • The all-new 1012 Honda Civic hasn't quite caught consumer attention and sold just 14,006 cars, a 37.4 percent decrease from July 2010.
  • ZDX sales slid 81.7 percent from July 2010
  • MDX and TL sold 14.9 and 15.0 percent less than July 2010
Mitsubishi: Mitsubishi continued its sales success, although one could argue the beleaguered manufacturer's sales had no other direction to go. This month, Mitsubishi posted a year-over-year increase of more than 41 percent.
  • July marks Mitsubishi's eleventh consecutive month with year-over-year sales increases.
  • Eclipse is up 95 percent this month and 78 percent year-to-date; note that the last Eclipse will be auctioned for charity in September.
  • Mitsubishi's light truck sales sales are up 108 percent compared to July 2010.
Mazda: With a very modest 0.2 percent sales increase over July 2010, led by the CX-7 crossover, Mazda reported what it hopes is sustained growth moving forward with 4.9 percent year-to-date sales increase.
  • Mazda3 sold 9288 cars in July 2011, down 4.3 percent compared to July 2010.
  • CX-7 sales were up 18.9 percent year-over-year, and 20.6 percent year-to-date.
  • Mazda5 sales were down 9.8 percent in July 2011 versus July 2010, but were still up 22.2 percent year-to-date.
Subaru: The all-wheel drive manufacturer sold 21,370 vehicles in July 2011, down 9.4-percent from last year, though the automaker's supply is just now recovering from the earthquake and tsunami.
  • Forester and Impreza models both saw a double-digit year-over-year slide, though Impreza is only down 4.72 percent year-to-date.
  • Legacy stayed in the black with sales rise of 13.59 percent compared to July 2010.
Suzuki: The smallest Japanese manufacturer also reported gains for July, with a 25 percent increase in sales over July 2010, led by 50 percent increase in SX4's compared to July 2010. Year-to-date, the automaker is up 17 percent, to 15,849 total vehicles sold.
Jason Davis contributed to this story.

Hopefully these manufacturers recover soon. They make some of the best, most reliable cars. Great article.