American Honda Motor Co. reported 9.7% growth in June sales on the strength of crossover and minivan sales.
The increase came despite continued weakness in the automaker's Acura luxury division, which saw sales decline by 10.4%, to 13,765, compared to last June. The recent release of a redesigned flagship Acura RLX sedan failed to pull Acura out of its slump.
Overall, the Honda brand posted gains of 12.5% to offset the Acura losses. While other automakers reported gains led by full-sized truck sales, Honda relied on passenger cars, its CR-V and Pilot crossovers, and the Odyssey minivan. Honda sales totaled 136,915 for the month.
"Honda continues to prove that it doesn't need to rely on pickup sales to deliver a strong performance month after month. Accord, Civic and CR-V are further cementing themselves as stalwart options for mainstream car buyers," said Jessica Caldwell, an analyst for auto information company Edmunds.com.
But Acura continues to be the hole in Honda's bucket. "The luxury brand can't gain traction, even with a new flagship RLX. It simply can't compete will the luxury heavyweights right now," Caldwell noted.
Honda's performance overall reflected a strong June for the industry at large, analysts said, buoyed by growth in the broader economy and rising consumer confidence.
“There is little question that the automotive market has strong momentum as we close out the first half of 2013,” said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive. “Looking forward, all the key fundamentals are in alignment to continue the current growth trend, with production capacity limitations being the only major visible risk.”
Toyota Motor Corp. sales increased 9.8% in June compared to the same month last year. The automaker also noted that its Camry -- the top-selling passenger car in the U.S. for the last 11 years -- surpassed 10 million in total sales, making up 20% of all vehicles the automaker has sold in the U.S. during its history.
"Not only did Toyota enjoy a solid increase in sales volume, they also saw transaction prices increase by more than 1% in June," said Alex Gutierrez, senior market analyst of automotive insights for Kelley Blue Book. "With a new Corolla just around the corner and the new RAV4 just beginning to pick up steam, Toyota is poised for success in the second half of 2013."
Hyundai reported moderate gains, with sales up 2% over the same month last year for a total of 65,007 units sold in June.
“June was another record-breaking sales month for us in what has been a strong first half of the year,” said Dave Zuchowski, executive vice president of national sales. The automaker experienced a 1% increase for the first six months of 2013 over that same period last year – 361,010 so far compared to 356,669 in the first half of 2012.
Nissan sales rose nearly 13% to 104,124 vehicles compared to the same month a year earlier. The automaker’s Altima sedan led in total numbers, with 26,904 cars sold to post a 23% gain. Meanwhile, the compact crossover SUV Rogue jumped 41% in sales, setting its own June record with 15,518 units sold.
“A lot of the marketing offers and price cuts have helped bring interest to the Nissan brand recently,” said Jessica Caldwell, an analyst for Edmunds.com.
Nissan reported its electric Leaf had its second-highest month ever, with 2,225 EVs sold, an 315% increase over last June.