July U.S. auto sales:Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda post double-digit gains; Ford slumps

Toyota Motor Corp., Hyundai, Kia, Mazda and Volvo racked up another month of solid, double-digit U.S. sales gains in July, even as inventories continue to fall broadly across the industry because of severe microchip shortages and other supply-chain disruptions in the wake of the pandemic.

U.S. auto sales rose 5 percent during the month, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said in a report Wednesday, just below forecasts for an increase of 6 to 7 percent, according to Cox Automotive, J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.

The annualized pace of sales fell to 14.8 million, Jonas said, near the low end of forecasts — 14.7 million to 15 million — after averaging just over 17 million a month in the first half, slowing the industry’s post-COVID recovery. It’s the lowest SAAR reading since July 2020 (14.6 million), when the industry was steadily rebounding from COVID-19 shutdowns.

Ford Motor Co. remains particularly hamstrung by the chip crisis, with July sales slumping 32 percent and still trailing Toyota and Honda. Volume dropped 31 percent at the Ford division and 51 percent at Lincoln, the automaker said Wednesday.

Some of Ford’s most popular and profitable models racked up double-digit declines for the month: Ford F-Series, down 26 percent; Ford Explorer, off 26 percent; Ford Escape, down 71 percent; Ford Ranger, off 34 percent; Ford Transit van, down 25 percent; Lincoln Aviator, off 44 percent; and Lincoln Nautilus, down 26 percent. 

Overall, Ford Motor said SUV/crossover and truck deliveries slid 27 percent, while car volume dropped 75 percent, reflecting discontinued models.

A Ford spokesman said the company ended last month with gross new-vehicle inventories of 160,000, a 67 percent decline from 490,000 at the end of July 2020.

Sales rose 33 percent last month at Toyota Motor, with the Toyota and Lexus brands each posting similar double-digit gains. Toyota Motor said car demand increased 42 percent and light truck deliveries jumped 29 percent. 

The company ended July with 140,939 cars and light trucks in dealer and port stocks — equal to a 17-day supply — but down 13 percent from 161,120 at the end of June and off 47 percent from 266,131 at the close of July 2020.

Honda Motor Co., citing inventory constraints that limited key models, posted a smaller gain of 8 percent for the month, with demand up 7.4 percent at the Honda division and 14 percent at Acura. The company’s car deliveries rose just 0.8 percent, with Accord off 4 percent. Still, American Honda said it set a July record for U.S. light-truck sales of 83,727.  

Volume rose 19 percent to 68,500 last month at Hyundai, with the brand’s retail deliveries setting a July record of 61,227, a gain of 14 percent. Only three models — Ioniq, Palisade and Veloster — posted lower sales last month. Hyundai said it ended July with 46,113 cars and light trucks in U.S. dealer stock, down 65 percent from July 2020 and off 32 percent compared to the end of June.

Kia, with one of the lowest inventory levels in the industry, said deliveries rose 34 percent to a July record of 70,099.

For the second straight month, Subaru, citing low inventories caused by tight chip supplies, posted a decline — 2.6 percent — after a 21 percent decrease in June. 

At Genesis, volume rose 312 percent to 5,180, marking the first time the luxury brand has topped the 5,000 unit mark in a month. Genesis’ two crossovers continue to easily outsell combined deliveries of the brand’s three sedans. Mazda posted a 36 percent increase in July volume behind near equally strong crossover and car demand.

Volvo said its U.S. sales rose 20 percent last month.