Aug. 1 - GM,Ford and Chrysler reported sales that were below forecasts in July-hurt by low inventories of some popular cars.Truck sales remained strong. Havovi Cooper reports.
June was a hard act to follow for auto sales. Sales at Ford and Chrysler rose 11 percent from a year ago, GM sales rose 16 percent. All three posted their best month since 2006, though ambitious expectations were for even more. Demand for higher priced and higher profit margin pickup trucks remained strong for a second straight month. Efraim Levy of S&P Capital IQ says that's thanks to the housing boom. SOUNDBITE: EFRAIM LEVY, AUTO ANALYST, S&P CAPITAL IQ (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Well the full-sized pickup trucks are really a sign of economic growth. There's a lot more of the contractor business, a lot more construction and housing. All these things are businesses- they need to have pick-up trucks for the business. They're not just a casual buyer." The casual buyer wanted a Ford Fusion--but the company underestimated the demand for that car....and got burnt by low inventory. Sales for that model fell 12 percent as a result. Although gas prices did not shoot up last month, Levy says people are still conscious of prices at the pump. SOUNDBITE: EFRAIM LEVY, AUTO ANALYST, S&P CAPITAL IQ (ENGLISH) SAYING: "It is moving consumers to buy smaller vehicles. We think that's one of the factors why one of the two areas of strength this month and year-to date was small cars, the other being light trucks, it's because people want fuel efficient vehicles as well as getting technology in whatever they buy." Speaking of technology, hybrids have been squeezing their way into more driveways lately...BMW recently introduced a new electric Bimmer to their line-up as well. But Kelley Blue Book analyst Karl Brauer says Elon Musk is stealing the show when it comes to that breed of cars. SOUNDBITE: KARL BRAUER, SENIOR ANALYST, KELLEY BLUE BOOK (ENGLISH) SAYING: The most headway we've seeing in the alternative fuel vehicle field is of course from Tesla, whether it's their stock prices or their production levels. //These cars are still a very tiny percentage of total number of vehicles sold, but there just seems to be an undeniable growing adoption of these kinds of vehicles and more and more people are willing to give them a try. So what does the rest of the year look like? Standard and Poor's is looking for continued improvement, with light vehicle sales expected to rise 7.8 percent in 2013 to 15.6 million.