US auto sales strong in July on SUV, luxury demand

Published 10:07 am Monday, August 3, 2015

DETROIT — Summer deals and big demand for SUVs and luxury vehicles kept U.S. auto sales strong in July.

Sales of new cars and trucks were expected to rise 3 percent to nearly 1.5 million, according to car shopping site

General Motors and Fiat Chrysler both saw 6 percent sales gains over last July, while Honda and Nissan both saw 8-percent gains. Ford’s U.S. sales rose 5 percent. Volkswagen sales rose 2 percent. Toyota’s sales were flat, hurt by a big dip in car sales.

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Other automakers will report July sales later Monday.

Automakers benefited from relatively low gas prices and surging sales of SUVs. Sales of Nissan’s new Rogue jumped 51 percent. Ford’s Escape, Edge and Explorer SUVs all saw double-digit percentage gains. Sales of GM’s Buick Encore small SUV jumped 68 percent.

Summer discounts to clear out 2015 models also lured buyers. Sales of midsize sedans have been struggling as buyers pass them over for small SUVs, so automakers tried to entice buyers last month with zero-percent financing deals on the Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion and Nissan Altima. It worked. Altima sales rose 27 percent and set a new July record.

Deals aren’t the only motivator. Buyers are showing their confidence with an increasing penchant for luxury vehicles. TrueCar said sales of luxury vehicles are rising at double the pace of mass-market brands.