Detroit Three gain 50 percent of U..S. market first time since 2008

(July 1, 2011) Chrysler, Ford and General Motors captured more than half of industry sales in June — 50.1 percent — for the first time since February 2008. Monthly automotive sales figures were released today.

Sales rose 11 percent at GM, with car demand climbing 28 percent and pickup truck volume up 15 percent. Ford said sales increased 10 percent from a year earlier, when Volvo and Mercury were included in the automaker's results. Robust demand for Jeeps and a 35 percent jump in Ram truck sales helped the Chrysler Group's June volume advance 30 percent.

For the first six months of 2011, GM is up 17 percent over 2010, Ford is up 9 percent and Chrysler sales are up 21 percent.

Total U.S. sales for June were up only 7 percent as a rebound from weak May sales was hampered by Honda and Toyota, which continued to struggle following parts shortages resulting from the March earthquake in Japan. Toyota was down 21 percent compared to June 2010 and Honda was off 22 percent.

For the year Toyota is down 4 percent and Honda is up 2 percent.

The biggest gainer was the South Korean Hyundai Group. Hyundai reported a gain of 16 percent month over month, and Kia was up 41 percent. Together the two companies were up 25 percent. Year over year, the Hyundai Group is up 33 percent.

The German car companies all showed double-digit gains in June. Volkswagen/Audi was up 30 percent, BMW increased 15 percent and Daimler was up 18 percent.

Of the other Japanese companies, Nissan was up 11 percent month over month, Mazda was up 6 percent, Suzuki was up 12 percent, Mitsubishi was up 98 percent on sales of 8,299 units, and Subaru was down 8 percent.

June's seasonally adjusted annual sales rate fell to 11.43 million units — the lowest mark since June 2010, when the SAAR hit 11.15 million. The performance was well short of forecasts in the 12 million range.

"The industry's inventory problems — real or perceived — as well as economic worries produced a speed bump last month, and it's a major bump," said TrueCar analyst Jesse Toprak.

The SAAR had topped the 12-million level for seven straight months — the last three of those above 13 million — before shoppers scaled back in May, when total sales fell for the first time in nine months.

While U.S. light vehicle sales are expected to continue rebounding, more automakers are striking a cautious tone about the industry's outlook.

"There are some consumer confidence issues," Al Castignetti, brand chief for Nissan, told The Wall Street Journal. "I didn't see the traffic in the showrooms I expected [to] but I think it will be better in July and August and throughout the year." Sales of Nissan and Infiniti models rose 11 percent last month.

Sources: Automobile manufacturers, Automotive News