U.S. Auto Market Lags With Honda, Toyota Sales

Originally published on August 3, 2011 7:45 am
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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Companies in Japan are still struggling to work out problems with their supply chains, following Japan's earthquake and tsunami in March. That includes carmakers there. And that slowdown has hit automakers in this country. The overall U.S. market was dragged down by sluggish sales of Japanese brand cars.

NPR's Sonari Glinton reports.

SONARI GLINTON: Sales for General Motors were up by eight percent, Ford by six percent, and Chrysler beat expectations with a whopping 20 percent increase over last July.

Jesse Toprak is an analyst with TrueCar.com. He says that's good, but not as good as it used it used to be.

Mr. JESSE TOPRAK (Analyst, TrueCar.com): July sales was sort of like a car stuck on first gear. For the last three months we just can't get it to go on second gear.

GLINTON: Toprak says sales were not helped by Japanese carmakers who are still working out their supply chain issues. Toyota dropped 20 percent and Honda sales fell by more than a quarter. Oh, then there was the debt ceiling debate, which spooked stock investors and car buyers. Toprak also says there's this new surprising problem.

Mr. TOPRAK: Consumers are realizing that the new cars that theyve been buying the last several years can actually last a pretty long time without a problem. They're actually pretty well made.

GLINTON: A problem for carmakers that is.

Sonari Glinton, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.