U.S. auto sales have stalled, casting doubt on a rebound this year as persistent unemployment and tighter lending deter buyers.
After a good start this year, auto sales began to slump in May, hurt by the shortage of Japanese-brand vehicles, higher prices and worries about the U.S. economy.
Sales fell 28.4 percent last month at Honda and 22.7 percent at Toyota compared with July 2010. Both Japanese automakers have been struggling to meet demand because of parts shortages caused by the deadly earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 13.
On the same time, the Big Three U.S. auto companies – Ford, GM and Chrysler reported solid sales increases in July, but total sales in the United States were up just 1 percent.
Chrysler sales increased 20 percent to the best July showing in five years, GM reported an 8 percent increase while said its sales increased 9 percent.
“There are people who put off vehicle purchases because of uncertainty about fuel prices, vehicle availability and the economy,” said Johnson. “As these conditions improve in the latter half of this year, many of these buyers will return to the market. “
July “was a missed opportunity,” said Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends and insight at TrueCar.com. The month of July is generally one of the highest sales volume months of the year, but this time the debt-ceiling debate added to consumers’ worries and damaged sales.
Both GM and Ford Tuesday said they still expect the industry as a whole to sell between 13 and 14 million vehicles this year, although they said they expect the final total to be at the lower end of that range.
The U.S. unemployment rate remains close to recession levels, at 9.2 per cent in June (last month when was announced the exact indicator), nearly two points above Canada’s at 7.4 per cent.