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July auto sales: Chrysler, Nissan post big gains; Volkswagen falls

August 01, 2013|By Jerry Hirsch
  • Chrysler Toledo Assembly Complex
Chrysler Toledo Assembly Complex (Jeff Kowalsky / Bloomberg )

Chrysler Group said Thursday that it sold 140,102 vehicles in July, an 11% gain from the same month a year earlier. It was Chrysler’s best July sales since 2006.

The Auburn Hills, Mich., automaker was helped by a big gain in truck sales.  Chrysler said it sold 31,314 of its Dodge Ram trucks, a 31% increase from the same month a year earlier.

“We continue to see strong retail sales, particularly with our pickup trucks and SUVs,” said Reid Bigland, Chrysler’s U.S. sales chief.

The recovering housing and construction industries are fueling a boom in truck sales.

Nissan said its U.S. sales rose 10.9% to a 109,041 vehicles last month, setting a July record for the Japanese company.

Other automakers were expected to report U.S. gains for the month as auto sales crossed over into pre-recession levels. 

“Sales are undoubtedly strong, but what makes July truly impressive is that fleet sales are so low,” says analyst Jessica Caldwell. “That means retail sales are stepping up as the driving force for the auto industry. When people jump back into the market, it’s great news not just for the automotive sector, but for the entire U.S. economy.”

Edmunds, an auto information company, estimates that July auto sales rose about 15% to more than 1.3 million vehicles.

One exception was Volkswagen, which after gaining ground from the introduction of several new models in recent years has seen its momentum slow.

Sales of the VW brand fell 3.3% to 35,799 vehicles compared to the same month a year earlier.

“The industry is fairly strong. I see steady growth in the second half of the year,” said Mark McNabb, chief operating officer, Volkswagen of America.

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