On the GM July sales call, Alan Batey, vice president of sales and service at Chevrolet, said the pattern of Equinox sales illustrates the “momentum story we have.” He said, “we have been adding capacity at Equinox, but we’ve been selling it so quickly.”
The Cruze has a similar story, he said, and as GM starts to introduce the Sonic, it hopes the momentum will continue in the sub-compact market.
The Equinox starts at $22,995 and gets 32 miles per gallon on the highway. It competes with Honda’s CR-V, Toyota’s RAV4 and the Ford Escape hybrid.
The Ford Escape has been a hot vehicle for months.
Sales rose 66% to 24,411 in July, an all-time monthly sales record for the vehicle. For the first seven months, sales rose 29% to 147,018, making the Escape the No. 3 best-selling Ford product, behind the F-Series and the Fusion.
In July, Ford said that utilities led the company’s sales with a 43% increase. For the first seven months, Ford was the best-selling U.S. brand of utility vehicle, with sales totaling 330,619, up 27%.
“Escape had its best sales month in the 11-year history of the product,” said Ken Czubay, vice president for U.S. marketing, sales and service, on the company’s most recent sales call. “Explorer sales were more than double a year ago and Edge set a July sales record.”
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Overall, Jeep brand sales rose 46% to 38,691 in July. For the first seven months, Jeep brand sales are up 49% to 227,615. In July, the Jeep Wrangler set an all-time sales record, with sales up 46% to 14,355, while sales of the compact SUV Jeep Compass rose 240% to 4,430.
In fact, all five Jeep brand models posted a sales increase in July. Overall Chrysler sales rose 20% to 112,026 and Dodge sales rose 9% to 33,653. “In a market that remains tougher than a cheap steak, we were able to produce our highest retail sales in more than three years,” said Reid Bigland, CEO of the Dodge brand, in a prepared statement.
For the first seven months, Highlander sales were up 21% to 57,489.
Overall in July, Toyota light-truck sales totaled 56,175, down 8.3%. Toyota’s only other winners besides the Highlander were in the truck division. Sales of the Venza mid-sized crossover rose 22% to 4,711, while sales of the Sienna minivan rose 6.2% to 10,620.
Also on the positive side for Toyota was an 18% sales increase from June 2011. “For the second straight month, Toyota posted a month-to-month sales gain as inventories continued to recover,” said Jeff Bracken, vice president of Toyota division sales, in a prepared statement. “With the launch of four all-new models in the second half, including the 2012 Camry, and a production outlook that continues to improve, we’re optimistic our strong momentum will continue.”
For the first seven months, Pilot sales are up 3.2% to 61,572.
The Pilot is made at Honda’s plant in Lincoln, Ala. Although the plant operated at about 50% of capacity during the summer, increasing to between 60% and 70% in July, none of the 4,000 employees were laid off.
Honda has said it will refresh the Pilot for 2012, giving it a more refined look, more features, and a six-speed automatic transmission. The updated version will start to appear in showrooms next month.