Toyota, Nissan, Honda buck trend as US car industry slumps in July

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July was a bad month for local car manufacturers in the US, but Japanese firms bucked the trend and beat all expectations.

Last month was the worst since August 2010 for the US car industry, yet Japanese manufacturers beat all expectations and came out on top.

Toyota Motor Corp. was the shining star in July, defying expectations and reporting a 3.6% increase in sales. While Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. didn’t quite mimic Toyota’s success, both firms defied estimates and reported sales declines of 3.2% and 1.2% respectively – industry analysts had expected larger declines.

Meanwhile, demand at traditional US automakers slumped.

Sales at General Motors plunged 15% – the biggest slump in over a year – while Ford Motor Co. had its worst month since October last year and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV experienced its second worst fall of this year.

Much of Toyota’s success can be attributed to strong RAV4 sales in July. More than 40,000 of the crossovers were sold by Toyota last month alone, – a volume that is normally only witnessed in the full-size pickup market.

As a result of the expectation-beating figures, Honda shares jumped by 3.9% yesterday in early trading in Tokyo. Toyota and Nissan stocks rose by 0.6% and 0.5% respectively.

Executives from General Motors have said they will build 150,000 fewer vehicles in North America in the second half of this year compared to the first.

Ford will adopt a similar stance, reducing North American production by 34,000 vehicles.

The fact that both regular customers and rental companies have been cutting back on car purchases has been cited as a reason for the poor showing in the US car industry last month.