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Chrysler leads Detroit sales rise; best sellers

by Bill Cawthon on

Chrysler led the Detroit Three when it came to improved July light vehicles sales. Unfortunately, Toyota sales didn’t fall quite enough to allow Chrysler to remain in third place, but Chrysler did beat Hyundai/Kia, Nissan and Honda in nailing down fourth by almost 7,000 units.

Manufacturer Jul-11 Jul-10 Change DSR CYTD 2011 CYTD 2010 Change
General Motors 214,915 199,342 7.8% 12.0% 1,476,525 1,265,999 16.6%
Ford 180,315 158,986 13.4% 17.8% 1,249,803 1,061,202 17.8%
Toyota 130,802 169,224 -22.7% -19.7% 943,590 1,015,766 -7.1%
Chrysler 112,026 93,313 20.1% 24.7% 751,958 620,532 21.2%
Hyundai/Kia 105,065 89,525 17.4% 21.9% 672,966 515,376 30.6%
Nissan 84,601 82,337 2.7% 6.7% 589,574 522,669 12.8%
Honda 80,502 112,437 -28.4% -25.6% 687,944 706,346 -2.6%

Contrary to some analyst predictions, July turned out to be a fairly decent month. The seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) came in at 12.23, not only better than July 2010, but better than any month since April 2011. Volume was up about 0.9 percent, to 1,059,601 sales, a figure that also beat June 2011’s sales by 0.6 percent.

Chrysler sales were down 0.695% compared to June 2011, but June saw a 30.2% sales jump and, as nice as those are, one can’t expect them every month.

Once again, Jeep was the hero, there aren’t many brands with Jeep’s volume that are up 49% on the year. In July, the only American brands that outsold Jeep were Ford and Chevrolet and Jeep was No. 8 among all brands.

The Grand Cherokee keeps racking up the customers, the facelift on the Compass seems to be working and the Wrangler was one of the top 20 best-selling vehicles in July. The Wrangler not only outsold every traditional body-on-frame SUV in July, it outsold every crossover and SUV, domestic or foreign, except for the Ford Escape and Chevy Equinox.

The 200 doubled the July 2010 sales of the Sebring and it’s 59.4% ahead of the Sebring in comparable year-to-date (YTD) sales. Sales of the 300 were up a bit in July, but larger cars are still a problem area in the market and unless Chrysler wants to start stacking hundreds on the hood, it may take a bit of promotional juice to get sales of the 300 and Charger going.

Reid Bigland has his work cut out for him; Dodge’s July numbers looked like a sea of red. The Caliber did okay, but its Jeep siblings easily outsold it and the Town & Country outsold the Caravan. The Durango is selling in decent numbers, but its volume is just over half that of the Grand Cherokee.

The Fiat 500 is making a move. Its July numbers exceeded the total sales of the Smart ForTwo for the first seven months of 2011. Of course, the target isn’t Daimler’s woefully outdated microcar, it’s the BMW Mini. If you drop out the Mini crossover, which is only fair as the Fiat doesn’t have one, the Cinquecento was less than 400 sales behind the Mini in July. That’s three versions of the Mini to two of the Fiat. With the new promotion campaign kicking off and more dealers opening, the 500 should be racking up some respectable numbers soon.

The Detroit Three couldn’t quite grab the majority of the market in July, but they certainly claimed the lion’s share at 47.9 percent. The Japanese automakers combined for 32.9 percent, the Koreans claimed 9.9 percent and the Europeans took 9.3 percent. Funny thing is, that’s about the same share they had back in 1959, when Detroit was getting worried about foreign competition.

It was a Chrysler market in July, light trucks grabbed 52.1 percent of the market. That’s 2.2 points of market share more than in June 2011 and two points more than July 2010.

Brand and Model July sales CYTD Sales
1 Ford F-Series 49,104 313,183
2 Chevrolet Silverado 33,121 215,906
3 Toyota Camry 27,016 174,485
4 Chevrolet Cruze 24,648 147,620
5 Ford Escape 24,411 147,018
6 Nissan Altima 21,340 153,182
7 Hyundai Sonata 20,884 135,898
8 Ram Pickup 20,311 132,209
9 Chevrolet Malibu 19,529 142,312
10 Ford Fusion 19,318 151,004
11 Toyota Corolla 17,577 154,324
12 Chevrolet Equinox 17,094 112,932
13 Honda Accord 16,831 143,936
14 Volkswagen Jetta 15,713 107,464
15 Hyundai Elantra 15,181 118,482
16 Ford Focus 14,889 112,913
17 Jeep Wrangler 14,355 67,591
18 Chevrolet Traverse 14,283 64,310
19 Honda Civic 14,006 141,577
20 Honda CR-V 13,943 124,859

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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