Tesla shines amid US auto sales slump

Auto sales slumped for most top carmakers in the second quarter of 2019, a sign that an international boom in purchasing is ending as the industry grapples with changing customer demand and increasingly stringent regulatory environments in countries around the globe.

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In the U.S., Fiat Chrysler, General Motors and Ford are locked in an intensifying battle over pickup sales, one of the biggest profit drivers for the so-called “Big Three.”

Ford remains the leader with its powerhouse F-Series line, but GM ceded ground in June to Fiat Chrysler, whose Ram pickup truck outsold the Chevrolet Silverado by more than 40,000 units.

Outside of the legacy firms, Tesla set new production and delivery records in the second quarter, a major achievement for the electric carmaker that has struggled to scale manufacturing operations. Overall, the firm delivered 95,200 cars, a 51 percent increase over the prior three months.

The news sent Tesla shares surging in trading on Wall Street on Wednesday.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
FFORD MOTOR COMPANY10.86+0.84+8.38%
TSLATESLA INC.850.45+5.90+0.70%

Sales at Ford dropped 4.1 percent in the first quarter, despite pickup truck transactions growing 7.5 percent to over 324,000 units -- the best quarterly performance since 2004. Sales of sports utility vehicles at the Dearborn, Michigan-based company fell 8.6 percent, while passenger car sales fell 21.4 percent.

At GM, sales dropped 1.5 percent in the three months through June amid a sharp decline in demand for sedans like the Chevrolet Malibu and Cruze, which the Detroit-based firm ended production of earlier this year. And while sales of the Silverado dropped nearly 16 percent, those declines were offset by higher sales of sports utility vehicles like the Acadia.

Sales at Chrysler rose 2 percent last month to roughly 206,000 units, largely due to a 56 percent jump in sales of the Ram pickup. Still, Jeep brand sales slowed by 8 percent and minivan sales fell 27 percent.

"This is now the third month Ram pickup sales have surpassed 60,000 since December. Our dealers had a steady stream of customers all month long,” head of U.S. sales Reid Bigland said in a statement.


Outside of the Detroit companies, sales at Toyota Motor fell 3.5 percent in June, Nissan Motor’s sales fell 15 percent and Hyundai Motor sales rose 1.5 percent.