(Bobit) — The seasonally adjusted annualized rate of new-vehicle sales ticked down slightly but remained above the 17 million-unit mark in June, according to reports and estimates compiled by Automotive News. U.S. dealers sold 1,294,883 new cars and light trucks last month, 2.6% fewer than in June 2018 and the sixth consecutive “down” month to start the year.
The SAAR now stands at 17.29 million after registering at 17.4 million at the end of May. As has been the case throughout the year, fleet sales have helped the industry maintain a brisk pace.
“Strong fleet continues to support the market while weak car segments drag it down. Clearly, we are not seeing a large decline in June sales and, combined with May’s strong numbers, it may be shaping up to be a ‘hot’ summer for the vehicle market,” said Cox Automotive Senior Economist Charlie Chesbrough.
Chesbrough was one of several analysts who highlighted the performance of Fiat Chrysler’s Ram brand, which enjoyed a 56% year-over-year increase, moving more than 68,000 units in 26 selling days. Genesis registered the biggest gain (137%) among all significant marques for the second straight month.
Autotrader’s Michelle Krebs called Ram “the biggest auto story this year,” having displaced the Chevrolet Silverado as America’s second best-selling pickup.
“Ram has pulled out a lot of stops with incentives to grab market share — and it’s working — while Silverado is disadvantaged in launch mode,” the executive analyst said, referring to a prolonged redesign. “The new Ram 1500 has garnered critical acclaim, and the brand has been on an upward trajectory in terms of reputation.”
But Ram sales improved FCA’s overall performance by only 1.9%, thanks to declines among Fiat (-34.6%), Alfa Romeo (-29.1%), Jeep (-11.7%), and Chrysler (-4%). Jeep sales have fallen throughout 2019 after growing by more than 18% last year.
Other winners in June include Hyundai and Kia, which improved sales by 1.5% and 0.4%, respectively, as well as Volkswagen (9.6%), BMW (7.5%), Porsche (6.4%), Mercedes-Benz (0.7%), and Volvo (also 0.7%).
Factories that experienced year-over-year declines were led by Jaguar (-19.6%), Nissan (-15.4%), and Mazda (-15.1%). Honda’s totals fell by 7.3% thanks in part to a 16.4% decline in Acura sales. Toyota and its namesake mass-market brand were both down 3.5%; Lexus deliveries fell by 3%.
Incentive spending ticked downward again — J.D. Power estimates per-unit spending fell to $3,788 per unit in June; ALG puts the average at $3,747 — but there were significant, market-shaping exceptions.
“According to our analysis, the Detroit truck makers were not shy with incentives in June. All had significant guaranteed cash in place to help move the metal. Ram led the way with an average guaranteed cash incentive of $4,198,” said Brad Korner, general manager of Cox Automotive’s Rates and Incentives division. “Ford’s average guaranteed cash was the lowest of the three at $2,412, and Chevy claimed the middle at $3,377.
“What’s most interesting, however, is that according to our analysis both Ford and Ram offered in June 2019 slightly less guaranteed cash than in June 2018,” Korner added. “Chevy, on the other hand, nearly doubled the amount of guaranteed cash offered, likely an effort to fend off the surging Ram brand.”
To read the Automotive News report in full, click here.