Big Three auto sales down in June

By Frank Ahrens
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 2, 2010

Detroit's Big Three automakers saw June sales drop between 12 and 13 percent as buyers pulled back from the previous month, suggesting that the hot May sales may have been an aberration. So automakers on Thursday were touting their year-over-year June sales numbers, which compared favorably with 2009's depressed figures.

Hyundai was the world's only major automaker to buck the downward trend, reporting a 4 percent June sales increase from May and a 35 percent jump compared with June 2009.

Autodata said the June numbers indicate that 11.1 million new vehicles will be sold this year, slightly ahead of last year's figure of 10.4 million new vehicles sold.

Embattled Japanese giant Toyota saw June sales drop 14 percent from May but edge up 7 percent compared with June 2009.

General Motors' June sales dropped 13 percent compared with May, though sales were up 11 percent from a year ago. June sales of the company's four core brands that it is keeping -- Chevrolet, GMC, Buick and Cadillac -- were up 36 percent over June 2009. The company, which is still 61 percent owned by the U.S. government, is working on its initial public offering, which is expected later this year or early next. GM is discarding or has already shed the Pontiac, Hummer, Saab and Saturn brands.

Ford said June sales were down 13 percent compared with May but up 15 percent over June 2009. Ford is the only one of the Big Three to not take a government bailout, and the company has been rewarded by gaining market share from GM and other automakers.

Chrysler said June sales were down 12 percent compared with May but up 35 percent compared with June 2009. It should be remembered, however, that even in the bad sales year of 2009, Chrysler's numbers were by far the worst of the Big Three.

Thursday's numbers offered a surprise: Subaru's June sales were down 9 percent from May. Subaru has been the magical mystery of the auto industry, recording double-digit sales gains each month -- until June. And, indeed, Subaru's June sales were up 16 percent compared with June 2009.

Nissan reported a 23 percent drop in June sales compared with May numbers, but an 11 percent year-over-year increase.

Honda's June sales slipped 9 percent from May but rose 6 percent compared with June 2009.

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