Although most automakers posted sales gains in June, Volkwagen saw its business decline because of a dearth of new models.
The German company said Tuesday that its U.S. sales fell 3.2% to 36,957 vehicles last month, compared with 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 the Kelley Blue Book auto information company.
"Through the first six months of the year, Volkswagen has seen sales decline about 1% compared to 2012 and as competition remains fierce," Gutierrez said. "Growth in the second half of the year will likely remain flat."
Jonathan Browning, Volkswagen Group of America's chief executive, noted that growth had slowed, but said that in the longer term, VW sales have experienced solid growth. This past June was up 30% over the same month two years ago.
"This is not about one month of growth or one quarter of growth," he said. "Look at growth over extended period of time."
Browning said sales of vehicles equipped with diesel engines were particularly strong. Diesels accounted for 30% of Passat sedan sales and 80% of Jetta SportWagen sales.
Overall, automakers sold about 1.4 million vehicles in June, about a 6% increase from the same month a year earlier. The annual sales pace, on a seasonally adjusted basis, reached about 16 million, the first time it has done so since December 2007, said Erich Merkle, Ford's sales analyst.
"Within the last month we saw a slowing stock market and a stalled unemployment recovery, but the automotive market continues to shine through it all," said Edmunds.com senior analyst Jessica Caldwell. "The first half of 2013 was every bit as strong as the auto industry could expect at the beginning of the year, and there's no reason why the next six months can't maintain the same momentum."
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.
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.