Here's How New Car Sales Started To Slip In July

Photo: John Bazemore/AP
Photo: John Bazemore/AP

After Ford reported a 9 percent drop in second quarter profits last week, industry analysts were scared that car sales might slow down after years of prosperity. Now we have official U.S. sales numbers from July, and they seem to show that the industry has indeed reached a plateau.


Automotive News has July sales numbers for every major automaker in the U.S. besides Jaguar, Land Rover and Porsche. Because the automakers missing from the report are low-volume marques, the news site’s current figures give a good indication of the overall industry trend for July 2016, showing that sales seem to be slowing. Which makes sense—we’ve seen years and years of record new car sales in America. That has to end at some point.

July 2016 sales for the industry were up only 0.4 percent compared to July of last year, and the first seven months of 2016 only surpassed the same period last year by a measly 1 percent.

That’s enough for Kelley Blue Book analyst Akshay Anand to assert that car industry sales are flattening out, as he told Automotive News:

It’s clear the industry is plateauing, as we’re now seeing signs of SUVs slowing down for several brands, while sedans continue to struggle...With incentives continuing to rise faster than ATPs, combined with slowing growth, the industry is in a tricky spot.

This “plateauing” of car sales has been a concern from analysts, particularly after Ford’s gloomy second quarter profits dropped last week.

As Ford boss Mark Fields said, emphasis mine:

We’re seeing more pressure throughout the business for the remainder of this year, so as a result, we’re calling for the second half of this year, and particularly the third quarter, to be much weaker than normal.


The report went on to cite a Wall Street analyst who said Ford’s announcement could be a “‘watershed’ moment for the industry” after months of post-recession sales growth.

We don’t know if these July 2016 sales numbers are going to be considered a “watershed” moment, but the July 2015 versus July 2016 numbers across the board seem to be either small incremental increases or in the negatives.


So, like we promised, here are July’s sales numbers for July 2016 compared with the same month last year, per Automotive News:

CompanyJuly 2015July 2016Percent Increase
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles181,081181,5380.30%
Ford Motor Company222,014215,268-3.00%
General Motors272,512267,258-1.90%
Mazda North America27,15727,9152.80%
Honda Motor Co.146,324152,7994.40%
Nissan North America130,872132,4751.20%
Tesla Motors (estimated)2,1002,2507.10%
Toyota Motor Sales USA217,181214,233-1.40%
VW Group of America49,24647,373-3.80%
BMW of North America32,25930,653–5.0%
Mercedes-Benz USA30,13032,2887.20%
Subaru Of America50,51752,0933.10%
Volvo Car USA5,6198,58452.80%
Mitsubishi Motors North America7,8687,8900.30%

Some analysts think the additional weekend in July this year, as well as holiday promotions and more incentives are what drove volume this July beyond its “organic demand.”

Automotive News says the auto industry’s “winning streak [is] at risk,” citing some analysts who think “decline in used-vehicle prices, spurred by an increase in off-lease vehicles, will... undermine new-vehicle sales in coming months.”


It will be interesting to see how August and September numbers look—only then will we truly know if July 2016 really is a turning point in demand for cars in the U.S.

Sr. Tech Editor, Jalopnik. Owner of far too many Jeeps (Including a Jeep Comanche). Follow my instagram (@davidntracy). Always interested in hearing from engineers—email me.


farscythe - makin da cawfee!

did fiat chrysler really increase sales tho? (little birdy told me their sales figures are a wee bit dodgy)