Two of three automakers with Tennessee assembly plants posted sales gains in the U.S. in July, with Volkswagen hitting its best mark for the month since 1973.
Nissan on Wednesday recorded a 16.2 percent jump in July sales over a year ago.
General Motors, slated to start making its Chevrolet Equinox crossover this year in Spring Hill, Tenn., saw total sales fall about 6 percent.
Volkswagen, with the Chattanooga-made Passat making up nearly 25 percent of all VWs sold last month in the United States, posted a 27.3 percent jump in sales over a year ago to 37,014. Passat sales were at 9,007 — its best July ever, according to the German automaker. That's down from 10,252 in June Passat sales.
"We're putting foundations in place and seeing sustained growth," said Jonathan Browning, VW Group of America's chief executive, in a conference call with auto analysts and reporters about total VW sales.
He said the Passat's diesel version is becoming more available to dealers after tight supplies earlier this year. Long-term, Browning said the diesel model could make up more than 25 percent of Passat sales.
Nissan, with a production plant in Smyrna, Tenn., sold 98,341 vehicles in the month.
Sales of its Altima midsize sedan, a Passat competitor, rose 25 percent to 26,602 in July from 21,340 in the same month last year, according to the company.
GM reported sales of 201,237 vehicles in July, as Chevrolet numbers fell 6.8 percent and Buick dropped 15 percent.
Still, Bob Lollar, sales manager for Walter Jackson Chevrolet in Ringgold, Ga., said his sales were 20 percent higher in July over last year.
"We're up for the year," he said. "We're hoping and praying the remainder of the year will be like the first portion."
Walt Danley, Internet sales manager at Kelly Subaru in Chattanooga, said July was "a strong month."
"Subaru is a niche brand in a way," he said, adding that some of its products are hard to get in the store.
Overall, July U.S. car and truck sales rose 9 percent from last July to 1.15 million, according to The Associated Press.
Honda's sales were up 45 percent and Toyota's rose 26 percent from last July, when their supplies were hurt by the earthquake in Japan. Chrysler reported a 13 percent gain while Ford posted a 4 percent drop.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...