Discounts boost July U.S. auto sales

General Motors new auto sales rose 9 percent in July compared to last July, boosted largely by strong demand for new large SUVs.

It was the Detroit automakers’ best July since 2007.

Sales of crossovers and trucks, which include pickups, vans and SUVs, surged by double-digits, pushing combined sales to 1,048,114 through July.

GM was the first automaker to pass the million-unit milestone in both 2014 and 2013.

“Sales of utility vehicles soared in July because American families feel better about the economy than they have in a long time, and they are finding an incredible variety of redesigned and all-new models in our showrooms,” said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president of sales operations. “Small, compact, medium, large – sales were strong across the board.”

Still, nationwide sales of GM’s Lordstown-built Chevy Cruze slipped by nearly 18 percent to 20,926 from 25,447 last year at this time.

Along with GM, Ford, Nissan and Chrysler reported big gains for July. Industrywide, sales were expected to rise 5 percent to 1.4 million, according to J.D. Power and Associates. That would make it the best July for the industry since 2006.

Generous summer discounts helped boost sales, said Jesse Toprak, chief analyst at

Toprak said the average price buyers paid fell 4 percent in July, while incentives were up 8 percent – or $216 per vehicle – over last July.

Automakers typically use summer discounts to clear out their lots before vehicles from the new model year start arriving in the fall.

According to Toprak, incentives averaged $2,774 per vehicle, their highest level since August 2010.

He said Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Toyota and Volkswagen boosted incentives the most.

Chrysler’s U.S. sales jumped 20 percent for the month on strong demand for the Ram pickup, while Ford’s were up 10 percent on big gains for the Escape and Explorer SUVs.

Nissan’s sales rose 11 percent. Sales of the electric Leaf increased 62 percent to 3,019, a record July for the car. The car went on sale in 2010.

“GM and the U.S. economy left July carrying good momentum,” McNeil said. “The economy has bounced back strongly from the harsh winter, consumer confidence has reached a post-recession high, energy prices remain moderate and job growth continues. The stage is set for strong sales through the balance of the year.

“In particular, there is a lot of pent-up demand for our new large SUVs and we expect pickup deliveries to be strong, as they usually are in the second half of the year.”