Automakers sold 1.5 million cars in July, nudging the yearly total to 10 million as most brands continue to ride strong waves of sales increases powered at least in part by cheap gas prices. We’ve gathered the data from WardsAuto and the manufacturers, sifted the most interesting nuggets, and polished them up so you can see what drivers did with their money last month. Follow along.
Blocking the Mazda 2 May Have Been a Mistake
After shifting its production to Mexico, sharing development costs with Toyota, paying for certification, and dodging our questions for months, Mazda decided that no, it wasn’t worth selling us their all-new 2 subcompact. Well, Mazda sales were down seven percent year-over-year, due in part to the loss of the 2075 sales that the last-gen 2 tallied last July. While we will get the 2’s goodness in the Scion iA sedan, surely there’s space for a hatchback, Mazda version; after all, even Mitsubishi can sell an average of 2150 Mirages per month. Granted, there were other factors in Mazda’s tough July: the 5 (on its way out) was down 64 percent; the 6 slipped by 4 percent, and the CX-9 was down 5 percent. The 3 (up 1 percent), CX-5 (5 percent), and MX-5 Miata (having an incredible summer with 183-percent gain) were bright spots. Granted, once the CX-3 crossover launches, Mazda should see a nice bump in volume. But with a 43-mpg highway rating (with the automatic) and a playful chassis, we think the 2 deserves a place in the lineup as well.
Diesels Are Outselling Hybrids
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel
Americans bought 44,148 light- and medium-duty diesels in July. That sounds like very little, but through July this year, diesels took a 2.8-percent market share compared to 2.3 percent for gas-electric hybrids. Of the 10 diesel SUVs on sale, the Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel leads this niche segment by a wide margin. While only six percent of Grand Cherokee buyers opted for the diesel, that total of 952 vehicles is double the count for the Audi Q7 TDI, two-and-a-half times that of the VW Touareg TDI, and a bit more than all four BMW diesels combined. Two other weird things: Mercedes only moved 12 ML250 BlueTecs in July despite an inventory that’s 500-strong. And a few people must have read the update on our long-term BMW 328d, because sales of that model dropped from 1705 in June to 116 last month.
BMW’s Hits and Misses Cancelled Each Other Out
2014 BMW 328d xDrive M Sport wagon
There are two ways to look at BMW’s flat July sales of 32,161. On one hand, its volume models didn’t pump as much volume as in 2014. Sales of the 3-series were down 12 percent, the 4-series was off 14 percent, and the 5-series dropped by 62 percent. The entire Mini brand sunk 11 percent amid declines for all but the Cooper four-door (which wasn’t around a year ago). But BMW SUVs were champions, with the X5 more than doubling, the X3 pole-vaulting by 50 percent, and the X4 jumping by 28 percent. Even the old-school X1 was up 19 percent. So while BMW dealers equally hit and missed last month, they still helped Munich claim an 8-percent lead over last year’s sales total through July.
Toyota’s Body-on-Frame Vehicles Made the Money Move
2014 Lexus GX460
Despite the loss of the FJ Cruiser—which accounted for 1424 sales last July—Toyota’s body-on-frame trucks fared well last month. The Lexus GX, at 2337 sold, was up 20 percent; it outsold the GS sedan by several hundred units, and also bested the CT hybrid, RC coupe, and LS sedan. Aside from the LS, it was the only Lexus that didn’t post a year-over-year drop. The 4Runner (up 26 percent to 8383 units), Sequoia (plus 5 percent to 1015), and Tacoma (gaining 29 percent to 17,033) also enjoyed increases. At the far opposite end of the Toyota spectrum, nothing is going well at Scion, which is down 25 percent. No doubt Scion dealers are eager for the new iM and iA models to arrive.
It Was the Best July Since 2007 at General Motors, Best Since 2006 at Ford, Best Since 2005 at Fiat-Chrysler
The Big Three ended July beating records stretching over three consecutive years. Fiat-Chrysler’s 178,027 total was its best in a decade and represented its 64th consecutive month of increases. If it weren’t for the Town & Country’s 43-percent drop, the Chrysler brand would have tallied a much higher increase than 10 percent, which came on the strength of the 200 (up 85 percent to 15,108 cars). The mighty Wrangler grew 18 percent to 19,320 units, and led the Jeep brand’s 23-percent jump. Ford’s 222,731 sales brought lots of Blue Oval joy. Lincoln managed its best July in a decade, at 9536 cars. While the MKZ sedan lost 5 percent, the MKC crossover sold 60-percent more copies than in 2014 and even the MKT recorded a 46-percent increase. The Fusion and Escape posted best-ever July figures (25,105 and 29,253), the Mustang enjoyed its best July since 2008 (with 8482 ponycars sold), and Ford’s commercial vans haven’t seen boom times like these (16,090 units) since Y2K reset our clocks.
Over at GM, more than 86,000 of its 272,512 vehicles were pickups, the best total since 2006. Every brand but Cadillac was up, most notably Buick (plus 18 percent), on strong demand for the Encore (up 68 percent); it’s Buick’s most popular model. The GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Traverse were up 32 percent, but the Corvette and Camaro were down 9 and 25 percent. We can see waiting for the new Camaro, but it’s high sports-car season, where are the Corvette buyers?