||Americans Love Their SUVs...From Detroit
Car sales this year are proving the theory that America's love affair with the sport-utility vehicle is far from finished, despite gas prices. And last month, they wanted their SUVs from an American automaker.
The SUV may go by different labels these days -- such as CUV, crossover or tall wagon -- and the SUVs feeling the love generally are smaller than in the old school utes.
But that doesn't take the luster off GM, Ford, and Chrysler, together posting a 28% year-over-year gain in utility vehicle sales in June, while overall U.S. auto sales were up just 7%. That compares with a 1% fall for Japanese SUVs, but that reflects the impact of the Japanese disaster. We also looked at SUVs from South Korea's Kia and Hyundai: Their SUVs were up 18%.
No SUV sold in greater numbers last month than the Ford Escape. The smallest Ford utility's sales jumped 43%. Overall, Ford utility-vehicle sales were up 27% last month -- about as strong as the 29% gain for its cars. Edge and Explorer gains offset losses for the larger Expedition and Flex, and together, these five utilities generated more than a quarter of all Blue Oval sales last month.
SUV patriotism abounds at the Fiat-run Chrysler Group, too.
There's arguably no utility more American than the Jeep Wrangler, and its sales improved 27% to 11,290 in June. It was America's fourth best-selling SUV, ahead of mainstream players such as the Explorer, Kia Sorento and Honda Pilot.
In fact, sales of every Jeep product -- an entire lineup of SUVs -- plus Dodge's Journey and Nitro, are up this year vs. last year. And the less-than-a-year-old redone Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango also had strong sales.
At GM, sales were down last month for big crossovers such as Buick's Enclave and Chevrolet's Traverse and big truck-based SUVs, such as Chevrolet's Suburban and Tahoe, Cadillac's Escalade and GMC's Yukon XL.
But GM's small utilities were standouts: Chevy Equinox sales jumped 56%; sibling GMC Terrain, rose 52% -- all the more impressive, considering they were selling as fast as GM could build them last year.
In fact, new and small are the words of the day. Older, huskier models are on the decline for all automakers: Expedition, Suburban, Tahoe, Yukon, Yukon XL, Toyota Sequoia and Nissan Armada together were down last month to 18,751, vs. 54,766 when large SUVs ruled in June 2004. That 66% belly flop compares with overall new auto sales down 27% in the same period.
The American SUV doesn't seem to be the auto world's skinny jeans, fashionable but bound to fall out of favor eventually. It has persisted, and in new forms, is thriving.
Share of Utility Vehicle Sales in June 2011
General Motors -- 20.0%
Ford Motor Co. -- 16.6%
Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep -- 15.9%
Honda/Acura -- 9.4%
Hyundai/Kia -- 9.1%
Toyota/Lexus -- 8.8%
Nissan/Infiniti -- 6.6%
Others -- 13.5%
(Source: USA Today, 07/17/11)
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