Auto sales gear up in first half of year

Auto sales gear up in first half of year

July 2nd, 2011 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Charlie Durham of Kia of Chattanooga says the brand's fuel-sipping models and vehicle quality helped drive sales hikes last month.

"We're climbing and growing," Durham said about Kia sales Friday, which were in line with total Hamilton County car and truck numbers.

New vehicle registrations in the county jumped 14.1 percent in the first half of 2011 to 5,475, figures show. For June, new titles climbed 14.6 percent, according to the Clerk's Office.

David Brown, sales manager of Integrity Automotive Group in Chattanooga, said that while gas prices spiked earlier this summer, sales have been constant even for larger sport utility vehicles and trucks.

"We think business will continue to grow and be on the positive side," he said. "We're excited about the future with General Motors products. They've got a lot of new offerings in the fall."

Meanwhile, Volkswagen of America said that June sales soared 35.1 percent over the prior year to 28,444 vehicles. The newly redesigned Jetta accounted for 17,105 units, up 88.3 percent, the company reported.

Jonathan Browning, CEO of Volkswagen of America, said he expects the momentum to carry into the rest of 2011.

"As we head into the second half of the year, we expect this trend to continue, particularly in the fall when we add the all-new Passat and Beetle to our dealer showrooms."

Earlier this week, VW's Chattanooga assembly plant began shipping the first Passats to dealers, which they'll use for dealer events and tests drives for customers. Passats will go on sale in September, officials said.

BIG THREE SALES

General Motors reported 215,358 U.S. sales in June, an 11 percent gain over a year ago.

Don Johnson, GM's vice president of U.S. sales, told Fox News that he expects total industry sales to be at the low range of 13 million to 13.5 million vehicles in 2011.

Ford's June total sales were 194,114, up 14 percent compared to a year ago. Year-to-date sales are 1.07 million, up 12 percent, according to the company.

Chrysler Group posted U.S. sales of 120,394, a 30 percent hike from June 2010. First half Chrysler Group sales grew 21 percent versus 2010.

Toyota and Honda continued to struggle in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami which hit the island nation earlier this year.

Toyota's U.S. sales of 110,937 units in June were down 24.1 percent compared to the same period last year, the automaker reported.

Honda posted June U.S. sales of 83,892 vehicles, a decline of 24.3 percent compared to a year earlier, the company said.

However, Franklin, Tenn.-based Nissan North America reported June U.S. sales of 71,941 units, up 11.4 percent.

Kia reported all-time record U.S. sales in June. The monthly total of 45,044 vehicles was 41.2 percent higher over a year ago.

Hyundai Motor America announced sales of 59,209 vehicles in June, up 16 percent and an all-time high for the month, according to the Korean car company.