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Ford ( F ), General Motors ( GM ) and Toyota ( TM ) saw U.S. vehicle sales grow more than expected in the second quarter as supply conditions improved. GM and Ford saw double-digit year-over-year and year-over-year increases in new vehicle sales. While both automakers are seeing some momentum for electric vehicles, their EV sales are generally sluggish. Traditional automakers are making a major shift to electric vehicles in a challenging industry environment.
General Motors won the second-quarter sales title, as expected. Ford said it was the largest seller of trucks in the second quarter and first half of the year.
Second-quarter auto sales
New-vehicle sales are expected to grow at an annualized rate of 15.8 million units in June. JD Power and GlobalData expect this to be up 4.6% from 15.1 million units in May and 22.5% from 12.9 million units in June 2022.JD Power and GlobalData also expect new-vehicle sales to grow at an annualized rate of 15.8 million units in June.
In unit terms, new-vehicle sales should reach nearly 4.1 million units in the second quarter, up 13.2 percent from the first quarter and 15.3 percent from the second quarter of 2022, Cox said. Supply chain issues led to low U.S. auto inventories, which dampened sales in the same period last year.
GM's second-quarter sales up 18.8%
General Motors ( GM ) continued its trend of strong sales, reporting that U.S. deliveries were up 18.8 percent from a year ago.
GM reported total U.S. sales of 691,978 vehicles in the second quarter, including 15,652 electric vehicles, an increase of more than 120 percent from the previous quarter. GM also said this was its fourth consecutive quarter of sales growth.
Across GM's portfolio, the automaker reported an 18 percent increase in GMC truck sales, a 17 percent increase in Chevrolet sales, and a 15 percent increase in luxury brand Cadillac sales. Driving sales of those brands were the updated Sierra pickup truck, the new Chevrolet Trax and the Escalade SUV, respectively.
GM also touted stronger pricing, with its average transaction price (ATP) up $1,482 from the first quarter. Other good news: Incentives were flat and inventory increased less than 4 percent.
GM's strong second-quarter performance comes after Tesla reported similarly upbeat sales results over the weekend, as did Rivian and Honda on Monday. Honda's sales were particularly impressive. Sales jumped 44.7 percent compared with the same period last year.
Edmunds, a provider of automotive sales and data, forecasts that the industry's overall sales for the second quarter will be up 16.1 percent from the same period last year, and that sales will even be up 13.8 percent year-over-year compared to the first quarter of 2023.
"If you look at the second quarter as a whole, new car sales appear to have settled into a steady state, which is a far cry from the industry's turbulence of the past few years. More consumers are returning to the market with older trade-ins, suggesting pent-up demand is helping to boost sales." Ivan Drury, Insight Director at Edmunds, said.
He added: "But digging deeper into the data, June tells a slightly contradictory story. After five consecutive months of increased discounts and vehicles staying on dealer lots longer, June suggests these trends have stalled a bit."
That said, Drury believes that the days of drastic price cuts due to bloated inventories are over and that any discounts will be modest compared to the past few years.
As automakers better "adjust to production and demand," Drury said, the industry as a whole could move toward a new, normalized pace of sales.
Second-quarter sales estimate: 523,717 units, up 9 percent from a year ago.
RESULTS: Ford's second-quarter sales were up 10 percent to 531,662 units and up 12 percent from first-quarter sales of 475,906 units.
Sales data released Thursday showed Ford's ICE (internal combustion engine) sales were up 10 percent as truck sales accelerated. Sales of the high-margin F-Series trucks were up 34 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, and were also up nearly 25 percent from the first quarter.
Hybrid vehicle sales increased 15.7 percent year-over-year to 34,589 units.
Ford sold 14,843 all-electric or pure electric vehicles (BEVs) in the second quarter. This represents an increase of nearly 37 percent over the 10,866 units sold in the first quarter.
BEV volume included 4,466 F-150 Lightning trucks, up just 4 percent from the first quarter. It also includes 8,633 Mustang Mach-E SUVs, up nearly 60 percent from the first quarter, and 1,744 E-Transit vans, up 49 percent from the first quarter.
In June, Mach-E sales more than doubled and total EV sales increased 35.5 percent, Ford said.
The press release said, "Improvements in Mustang Mach-E inventory flow began to appear late in the second quarter as a result of equipment reorganization at our plants earlier this year."
U.S. Auto Sales, EV Sales Outlook
Analysts say increased vehicle production is driving growth in U.S. auto sales after years of tight auto supply. In addition, pent-up consumer demand and growing fleet sales are seen as supporting growth.
After a surprisingly strong first half of the year, Cox Automotive last Tuesday raised its full-year sales forecast to 15 million units. That would represent a nearly 8 percent increase from 2022's 13.9 million.
Cox Auto said it expects sales of all-electric or pure electric vehicles (BEVs) to reach nearly 500,000 units in the first six months of 2023. That would be a 41 percent increase from 355,000 a year ago.
By 2023, U.S. electric vehicle sales are expected to exceed 1 million for the first time, Cox said.
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