Chrysler Sales Keeps Pace with Japanese Automakers' Return while Ford, GM Stall

By Joel Arellano | August 01, 2012
The Japanese automakers are back. That's what analysts are citing as the source of sales slowdown for domestic automakers Ford and General Motors. From slowing demand for the Corolla-competing Chevrolet Cruze to Toyota's almost inevitable claim as world's number one automaker—again—sales-wise, analysts believe pent-up demand for "Made in Japan" auto products resulted in sales drops for the number one and two domestic automakers, despite a relatively new portfolio of solid vehicles. Yet that simplistic explanation doesn't fit Chrysler, which saw another solid month of sales in July, lead by its Chrysler brand. Says Reid Bigland, president and CEO of the Dodge group and U.S. sales head, "July was another solid month for Chrysler Group as we again demonstrated our disciplined and methodical approach to growing sales and profits. In July we recorded a 13-percent increase in sales and our 28th-consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth. In addition we also announced a second quarter modified operating profit of $755 million representing our highest quarterly profits in more than a decade." Chrysler's winners
  • Italy's return to the U.S. continues to speed forward as diminutive Fiat 500 has another double-digit percentage gain for the month of July.
  • The Chrysler brand herald the Chrysler Group's sales for July, lead by the Chrysler 200 mid-sized sedan at 43 percent, and the full-sized Chrysler 300 at 41 percent. Americans, apparently, still like their cars big, brawny, and bling-bling (in the case of the 300).
Chrysler's losers
  • Discontinued models filled the bulk of Chryslers few sales dips in July. Vehicles heading into the sunset include the Dodge Nitro and Caliber crossovers, and the Ram Dakota pickup truck.
  • The near 50-percent drop in demand the Dodge Durango for July reveal that either Americans have a limit to how fuel inefficient they'll tolerate from a full-sized SUV, or there's a styling issue.
General Motors' winners
  • Cadillac saw an uptick in sales for July, a reverse from the steady drops the past few months. Crossovers lead the luxury pack, with the full-sized Cadillac Escalade seeing a near 23-percent increase while the SRX saw almost 19-percent compared to the same time period in 2011.
  • The police need cars, and General Motors is more than happy to supply them with vehicles. The Chevrolet Caprice, available only to cops (usually), saw a massive 455-percent jump in sales compared to July 2011.
  • GM's commercial vehicle division is doing well, with demand for the Chevrolet Express van at nearly 75-percent while twin GMC Sierra saw sales in triple digits.
General Motors' losers
  • Buick saw a drop in all its offerings except the all-new Verano. How bad? The full-sized Buick Enclave crossover saw sales dip nearly 30-percent compared to the same period last year, while the Lacrosse and Regal sedans saw sales fall 33-percent and 49-percent respectively.
  • Analysts point to the continuing sales drop of the all-new Chevrolet Cruze compact and the Chevy Malibu mid-sized sedan as evidence to the Japanese's automakers return to dominance in the sedan segment. The two saw sales fall 39-percent and 36-percent respectively.
Ford's winners
  • The 2012 Ford Fusion lead the Ford brand in sales for the month of July 2012 with a solid 20-percent increased compared to 2011. Look for the all-new Fusion to go on sale later this year.
  • Americans like full-sized crossover. Ask Lincoln, which saw an increase of over 57-percent of its MKT in July. Pessimists, though, point to the discontinuation of the long-in-tooth but still popular Lincoln Town Car as another reason for MKT sales. Jealous?
  • 15-percent jump in sales for the Ford Taurus in July also show Americans still love full-sized sedans as well
Ford's losers
  • The discontinued Ford Ranger saw sales plummet by nearly 94-percent. But the automaker still sold over 400 units of the compact pickup trucks to dealerships. You sure there's no market here, Ford?
  • Car shoppers continue to ignore the subcompact Ford Fiesta for the slightly larger Ford Focus.
Source: Chrysler, Ford, GM