GM, Ford Sales Trail Estimates as Consumers Stay Home

Photographer: Ed Lallo/Bloomberg

Ed Whitacre, chairman and chief executive officer of General Motors Co. Close

Ed Whitacre, chairman and chief executive officer of General Motors Co.

Close
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Photographer: Ed Lallo/Bloomberg

Ed Whitacre, chairman and chief executive officer of General Motors Co.

General Motors Co. (GM) and Ford Motor Co. (F), the two largest U.S. automakers, reported June sales that fell short of analysts’ estimates as consumers concerned about unemployment and the economy avoided large purchases.

GM’s U.S. sales gained 11 percent, trailing the 16 percent average estimate of six analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Ford’s deliveries rose 13 percent, less than the analysts’ 16 percent average projection. Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), Honda Motor Co. (7267) and Nissan Motor Co. (7201) also fell short of forecasts.

The results show the auto market may be slowing as waning consumer confidence keeps buyers out of showrooms. Industrywide deliveries in June reached an annualized rate of 11.1 million vehicles, according to AutoData Corp. The figure trailed the average estimate for an 11.2 million-vehicle pace and is a drop from 11.6 million in May. The rate gained from last year’s depressed 9.7 million-unit level.

“Car sales are in line with the consumer confidence numbers that came out, which were a huge disappointment,” said John Wolkonowicz, an analyst with IHS Automotive, a research firm in Lexington, Massachusetts. “Traditionally, June is a good selling month. But there are other overriding circumstances this June that are causing some disappointment.”

The Conference Board said earlier this week that its confidence index slumped to 52.9 this month from a revised 62.7 in May. The private research group’s June figure was less than the lowest forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

Annual auto deliveries averaged 16.8 million from 2000 through 2007 and fell to 10.4 million last year, the lowest in 27 years.

GM Brands

GM’s Buick brand sales gained 53 percent in June, while Chevrolet rose 32 percent, Cadillac added 39 percent and GMC rose 45 percent.

Sales of Chevrolet’s Camaro sports car fell 19 percent. Unlike Ford’s Mustang, GM doesn’t have a convertible version of its muscle car. It will start selling one later this year, said Jim Campbell, vice president of marketing for Chevy.

“Recent economic news continues to point to a slow recovery,” Steve Carlisle, Detroit-based GM’s vice president of global product planning, said today on a conference call. He said GM is maintaining its forecast for the industry to sell 11.5 million to 12 million vehicles in the U.S. this year.

Ford Pickups

Ford was helped by rising prices on used pickups, which are pushing some buyers to spend a bit more to buy new trucks, said Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst with Edmunds.com, an auto research website based in Santa Monica, California. Sales of the company’s large F-Series pickups increased 29 percent in June.

Chrysler Group LLC said sales gained 35 percent from a year earlier, topping six analysts’ average estimate for a 33 percent increase. Deliveries of the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based company’s Dodge brand rose 67 percent, led by its Caravan minivan, Charger sedan and Challenger sports car.

Sales to buyers such as rental car agencies may have boosted deliveries of the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger sedans, Caldwell said.

“Chrysler has done fairly strong fleet sales for the past few months,” Caldwell said. “The usual fleet suspects showed big gains.”

Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, said its total June U.S. vehicle sales rose 6.8 percent. The average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was an increase of 9 percent.

Nissan’s U.S. sales of its Nissan and Infiniti brand vehicles rose 11 percent, Brian Brockman, a company spokesman, said in an e-mail. The average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was an increase of 27 percent.

Honda’s sales of Honda and Acura brand vehicles rose 6.2 percent in the nation, said Christina Ra, a spokeswoman for the company’s U.S. unit. The average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was an increase of 9 percent.

Hyundai Motor Co. (005380) reported U.S. sales of 51,205 vehicles in June, an increase of 35 percent from the same month of 2009.

To contact the reporters on this story: David Welch in Southfield, Michigan, at dwelch12@bloomberg.net; Jeff Green in Southfield, Michigan at jgreen16@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jamie Butters at jbutters@bloomberg.net

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