June was a strong month for domestic and most import auto sales, but with the Japanese industry still hobbled by the March earthquake, the "Detroit Three" led with a 50.2 percent majority of light vehicle sales making this their first time to do so since August 2009.

General Motors reported a 16-percent year-over-year increase in retail sales, finishing the first half of 2011 having sold 192,056 more units than in June 2010 and allowing it to net an 11-percent overall sales increase.

GM's June retail sales were up 4 percent overall compared to May, with the biggest boost coming from the Chevy Volt’s ICE cousin, the Cruze, which out-distanced the previous Cobalt it replaced by 153 percent, and beat the usual sales leader, the Toyota Camry, as top seller.

The Volt, with the Detroit-Hamtramck plant still closed for upgrades, sold 561 units, for a year-to-date total of 2,745 units.

With the Volt's assembly plant closed, dealers reported 561 units sold in June.

Not that we are sure it is really a race, but the car most media compare the Volt to, the Nissan LEAF, sold 1,708 units in June, giving it a total of 3,875 for the year.

Both manufacturers have said they will each sell 10,000 units this, the inaugural year for these electric cars. Despite headlines saying the LEAF is winning, we see no reason that either company will not achieve its conservative goal.

Market snapshot

(Numbers based on press releases by respective manufacturers.)

As mentioned, General Motors' sales were buoyed by an overall rising market in June for domestic and most foreign-based manufacturers.

For year-over-year June sales, Ford was up by 14 percent, and Chrysler Group LLC was up by 30 percent, which, now partnered with Fiat, said this was its best sales performance since 2007.

As for major import brands, Audi USA was up by 16.9 percent in June, and recorded its best all-time sales of any quarter in the brand’s history. BMW Group was up by 12.8 percent, Hyundai USA by 16 percent for the month.

Mercedes-Benz USA reported its best June on record with sales at 18.8 percent, Mazda USA was up by 5.8 percent, and Nissan North America by 11.4 percent.

Notable June winners aside from Chrysler, were Volkswagen of America , up 35 percent, and reported as the company’s best June and best first-half year since June 2002, and Kia USA trumping all at 41.2 percent reported year-over-year sales for June. The company said this was the best quarter in Kia’s history.

Suffering in the aftermath of the March disaster in Japan were Toyota Motor Sales , down 24.1 percent (alternately reported by the Detroit News as -21.1 percent) in June, and American Honda , down 24.5 percent (alternately reported by Autodata at -21.3 percent).

In all, it was a strong month for automobile sales, except for those automakers most affected by the natural disaster in Japan.

GM's strengths

GM reported also a 15-percent overall increase for full-size pickup sales in June compared to May. Retail pickup sales were up 20 percent over May.

Despite increases in not-as-efficient light trucks, the big news for GM was robust sales for crossovers and automobiles, particularly Chevrolet brand.

Among crossovers, the 32 MPG highway-rated GMC Terrain and Chevrolet Equinox compact crossovers saw a combined retail sales increase of 78 percent during the month. Overall GM passenger car and crossover retail sales also rose substantially, up 33 percent and 24 percent, respectively.

Among Chevrolet cars, the Malibu continued to do well, as did its new fuel sipper, the Cruze. Both were among the top 10 best-selling in the industry in May, when the Cruze was also the best-selling compact car in the United States.

“Chevrolet has always been known for building great trucks,” said Alan Batey, U.S. vice president, Chevrolet Sales and Service. “Today, we are in the middle of transforming the brand with a strong lineup of cars that match the appeal of our trucks and crossovers.

Sales to commercial accounts rose 31 percent – the 15th consecutive month of commercial sales gains. Fleet deliveries accounted for 27 percent of GM’s total sales for the month.

Month-end GM dealer inventory in the U.S was about 605,000 units, up about 21,000 units compared to May and about 168,000 units higher than June 2010.

GM's stock price closed up 0.22 (0.72 percent) on Friday July, 1.

Another Winner

June was also a good month for GM-Volt forum member flmark, who won our create-a-caption contest . As readers know, the caption was in response to Nissan's LEAF advertisement for the pictured Chevrolet Volt owner. Nissan portrayed the Volt owner as sort of a loser, but Nissan has been reported as misrepresenting the true picture.

Winning caption: "Dear Chevy Volt Owners, Please be courteous and buy a gallon of gas a couple times a year if you desire to continue to use our facilities to clean your windshields. Thank you, The Management." - flmark

This contest offered a Chevrolet Volt die-cast for the caption winning the most reader votes.

I believe flmark has my e-mail address, and he will need to contact me with a shipping address for his prize.

Congratulations and thanks to everyone who participated – and Happy Independence Day!

Our GM-Volt contest winner will be sent a sealed box and car like this.


Sources (Note all automakers' mentioned are linked.) Also, GM , Detroit News , GM .