American Honda Motor Co. reported 9.7% growth in June sales on the strength of crossover and minivan sales.
The increase came despite continued weakness in the automaker's Acura luxury division, which saw sales decline by 10.4%, to 13,765, compared to last June. The recent release of a redesigned flagship Acura RLX sedan failed to pull Acura out of its slump.
Overall, the Honda brand posted gains of 12.5% to offset the Acura losses. While other automakers reported gains led by full-sized truck sales, Honda relied on passenger cars, its CR-V and Pilot crossovers, and the Odyssey minivan. Honda sales totaled 136,915 for the month.
"Honda continues to prove that it doesn't need to rely on pickup sales to deliver a strong performance month after month. Accord, Civic and CR-V are further cementing themselves as stalwart options for mainstream car buyers," said Jessica Caldwell, an analyst for auto information company Edmunds.com.
But Acura continues to be the hole in Honda's bucket. "The luxury brand can't gain traction, even with a new flagship RLX. It simply can't compete will the luxury heavyweights right now," Caldwell noted.
Honda's performance overall reflected a strong June for the industry at large, analysts said, buoyed by growth in the broader economy and rising consumer confidence.
"There is little question that the automotive market has strong momentum as we close out the first half of 2013," said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive. "Looking forward, all the key fundamentals are in alignment to continue the current growth trend, with production capacity limitations being the only major visible risk."
Toyota Motor Corp. sales increased 9.8% in June compared to the same month last year. The automaker also noted that its Camry -- the top-selling passenger car in the U.S. for the last 11 years -- surpassed 10 million in total sales, making up 20% of all vehicles the automaker has sold in the U.S. during its history.
"Not only did Toyota enjoy a solid increase in sales volume, they also saw transaction prices increase by more than 1% in June," said Alex Gutierrez, senior market analyst of automotive insights for Kelley Blue Book. "With a new Corolla just around the corner and the new RAV4 just beginning to pick up steam, Toyota is poised for success in the second half of 2013."
Hyundai reported moderate gains, with sales up 2% over the same month last year for a total of 65,007 units sold in June.
"June was another record-breaking sales month for us in what has been a strong first half of the year," said Dave Zuchowski, executive vice president of national sales. The automaker experienced a 1% increase for the first six months of 2013 over that same period last year – 361,010 so far compared to 356,669 in the first half of 2012.
Nissan sales rose nearly 13% to 104,124 vehicles compared to the same month a year earlier. The automaker's Altima sedan led in total numbers, with 26,904 cars sold to post a 23% gain. Meanwhile, the compact crossover SUV Rogue jumped 41% in sales, setting its own June record with 15,518 units sold.
"A lot of the marketing offers and price cuts have helped bring interest to the Nissan brand recently," said Jessica Caldwell, an analyst for Edmunds.com.
Nissan reported its electric Leaf had its second-highest month ever, with 2,225 EVs sold, an 315% increase over last June.
General Motors Co. in June posted its best month for U.S. auto sales in almost five years. The automaker said sales rose 6% to 264,843 vehicles over the same month a year earlier, the highest total since September 2008. Booming truck sales, linked to the recovery of housing and construction, were responsible for much of GM's growth last month. Sales of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup increased 29% and 33%, respectively.
"GM's growth goes beyond trucks though," said Alec Gutierrez, an analyst with auto information company Kelley Blue Book. "Growth in the small-car and crossover segments have also helped to move the needle for GM with their Cruze and Equinox showing strong gains," he said.
While most automakers posted sales gains in June, Volkswagen saw its business decline because of a dearth of new models. The German company said its U.S. sales fell 3.2% to 36,957 vehicles last month compared to the same period a year earlier.
"Gains in the Jetta and Passat were offset by a rather significant decline in the Golf, which has seen a decline as consumers hold out for the 2014 redesign expected to drop later this year," said Alec Gutierrez, an analyst with auto information company Kelley Blue Book.
Ford Motor Co. reported a healthy boost in sales for the month of June, a 13% year-over-year increase, thanks in large part to the automaker's F-series trucks. This was the best June for Ford trucks since 2005, in fact, with sales up 24% to take the F-series into its 23rd consecutive month of increases.
Economy cars also sold well. Sales of the Fiesta, Focus and C-MAX hybrid totaled more than 35,800, up 39% from last year, making last month the carmaker's best June for small cars in 13 years. The Escape crossover SUV also continued its strong sales streak, posting best-ever monthly sales at 28,694 vehicles.
"We're particularly encouraged by strong retail share gains, especially in coastal markets," said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president of marketing, sales and service.
Chrysler posted its best June since 2007 with sales up 8% year-over-year, the automaker reported. Dodge Durango sales led the way with a 39% increase, while Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram trucks helped boost sales with 33% and 23% increases, respectively. Jeep sales overall were flat, but should get a boost later this summer with the arrival of a new Jeep Cherokee, which will replace the outgoing Liberty model.
"Chrysler is weaning itself some from the outsized percentage of daily rental car sales it had been selling, which puts the automaker in a healthier financial position," said Michelle Krebs, an analyst with auto information company Edmunds.com.