RPT-WRAPUP 3-U.S. June auto sales slip, recovery in doubt

(Repeats July 1 story for wider readership)

* June sales rate down from May, consumer demand slack

* Chrysler up 35 pct vs ’09; Ford up 13 pct; GM up 11 pct

* Pickup truck sales up strongly for GM, Ford; Ram trails

* Consumers still jittery about big-ticket purchases
(Adds analyst comments, final sales number)

By Soyoung Kim and Bernie Woodall

DETROIT, July 1 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. auto sales slipped in June
from the previous month and major automakers said there was no
sign of the second-half recovery the battered industry had
expected at the start of the year.

Monthly U.S. sales results for the Detroit automakers were
up by double-digit percentages from June 2009, a month when
Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy and General Motors Co [GM.UL]
filed for protection from its creditors.

But overall sales were down from May, raising questions
about whether the industry and investors overestimated the
strength of what is shaping up as a very limited recovery from
the depressed 2009 levels.

“June came in fairly anemic,” said Al Castignetti, who
heads Nissan brand sales in the United States. ” I think a lot
of people are looking at housing and other indicators and just
delaying big-ticket purchases.”

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BREAKINGVIEWS-Auto sales defy positive statistical

trends [ID:nN01164595]

Graphic on June auto sales:

http://link.reuters.com/dub45m

Reuters Insider-A Longer-Term View: Weak June Auto Sales

Mask Pent-Up Demand [ID:nRTV121301]

Top-20 selling vehicles in US through June [ID:nN01167718]

June US light vehicle sales major automaker[ID:nN01141667]

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On the annualized basis tracked by analysts and investors,
U.S. auto sales slipped to 11.08 million vehicles in June, down
from 11.6 million in May and below the 11.15 million average of
the first half, according to industry tracking firm Autodata.

Chrysler, now controlled by Fiat SpA (FIA.MI: ), reported a
35 percent sales increase but declined to detail the share of
those sales that went to retail customers.

Ford Motor Co (F.N: ) sales were up 13 percent, while GM
posted an 11 percent sales increase, the same gain recorded by
Nissan Motor Co (7201.T: ).

Other major Japanese automakers trailed: Toyota Motor Co
(7203.T: ) was up 7 percent and Honda Motor Co (7267.T: ) was up 6
percent.

Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS: ) bucked the trend again in the
sputtering U.S. markets with a 35 percent sales gain.

The Korean automaker posted a 25 percent gain in sales the
first half of 2010 but warned that industry-wide demand was
running below forecasts in the world’s No. 2 vehicle market.

“We don’t see the recovery reversing but we are
anticipating that for an extended period of time we are going
to get this choppiness,” said Paul Ballew, chief economist at
U.S. insurer Nationwide in Columbus, Ohio.

Ballew, a former GM sales analyst, said he had reduced his
forecast for 2010 sales by 500,000 vehicles to the low 11
million vehicle range.

Some analysts had expected 2010 U.S. auto sales to rebound
as high as 12.5 million vehicles, up from the 10.6 million
sales recorded in 2009. But the high end of that full-year
sales forecast now appears out of reach, executives said.

The lower-than-expected U.S. sales come as weaker sales in
France and the prospect of higher taxes in markets like Spain
deepened concern about a double-dip. [ID:nLDE6600S2]

Hyundai’s North America chief, John Krafcik, said the
Korean automaker now expects that U.S. sales for 2010 will end
up around 11.3 million vehicles.

Toyota said it expected full-year sales would end at around
11.5 million vehicles.

“There’s no question that the industry’s recovery will be a
slow process and there will be some bumps along the way,” said
Bob Carter, chief of the Toyota brand in the U.S. market.

GM Chief Executive Ed Whitacre, speaking to reporters in
Texas, said the automaker was pressing ahead with its plans for
a stock offering, despite wobbly consumer confidence.
[ID:nN01202344]

RETAIL SALES GAIN LIMITED

Analysts and some auto dealers have said the practice of
reporting overall U.S. sales numbers has obscured an unusually
weak recovery in consumer demand in 2010.

U.S. automakers have traditionally relied on sales to fleet
customers, including car rental agencies, for a larger share of
their overall sales than European and Japanese auto brands.

That category of sales is less profitable and more volatile
than auto sales to consumers through dealerships.

Ford said fleet sales accounted for about 37 percent of its
overall sales in June, including 14 percent of its sales that
went to car rental agencies.

GM said its share of such fleet sales was about 31 percent.
Chrysler declined to provide a similar figure that would put
its overall sales gain in perspective.

On an industry-wide basis, fleet sales have accounted for
about a fifth of overall sales for the past five years.

After stripping out fleet sales, Ford said it estimated
that industry-wide retail sales in June were running as low as
8.5 million units in June.

One of the stand-out trends in June sales was that sales of
trucks and SUVs were stronger than overall vehicle sales, a
bounce automakers attributed to continued steady gas prices.

Ford’s F-Series pickup truck line — the automaker’s
best-selling and most profitable products — gained 30 percent
from a year earlier.

Sales of the Chevy Silverado were up 25 percent, while
sales of the GMC Sierra jumped 27 percent. Chrysler’s Ram truck
line trailed its rivals with a 7 percent gain.
(Writing by Kevin Krolicki, editing by Matthew Lewis)

RPT-WRAPUP 3-U.S. June auto sales slip, recovery in doubt