Orange County Business Journal

Automakers See Smaller Sales Gains in July

Kari Hamanaka Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Orange County automakers saw sales rise in July, although the pace of increases slowed from a year.

A shortage of vehicles from Japanese automakers and lingering concerns about the economic recovery have hampered more robust growth for automakers here and the rest of the country.

Supply chains for automakers in Japan are still feeling effects of the tsunami and earthquake that struck the nation earlier this year.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales an industry measure prejecting total sales for the year—was 11.8 million vehicles in July.

Costa Mesa-based Hyundai Motor America Inc.'s sales rose 10% from a year earlier to 59,561.

That’s the smallest percentage growth Hyundai—part of South Korea’s Hyundai Kia Automotive Group—has reported so far this year. Hyundai's largest year-to-year gain was 40% growth in vehicle sales in April.

Sales of the Sonata sedan led Hyundai sales for the month with 20,884 cars sold, up 17% from a year earlier.

Hyundai is temporarily headquartered in Costa Mesa and plans to remain there until construction on its new North American corporate offices in Fountain Valley is complete.

The construction project is expected to take two years.

Hyundai sister company, Irvine-based Kia Motors America Inc. saw July sales increase 28.5% to 45,504 vehicles compared to a year ago.

Sales were led by the Kia Sorento crossover sport utility vehicle.

The automaker sold 13,262 Sorentos in July, up 47% from a year earlier.

Other automakers here also saw July sales increase.

Cypress-based Mitsubishi Motors North America reported sales up 41% to 7,972 vehicles.

Mitsubishi’s sales were led by the Outlander Sport crossover utility vehicle.

The Outlander’s sales totaled 1,571.

That’s a 12% increase from April when the Outlander hit a previous high.

Brea-based American Suzuki Motor Corp.’s vehicle sales increased 25% in July to 2,447.

Strong sales of Suzuki's SX4 crossover sport utility vehicle led the gain with 1,184 sold during the month. That's up 50% from a year earlier.

Irvine-based Mazda North American Operations’ sales stalled last month.

The automaker saw sales up less than 1% in July to 20,783 vehicles.

Sales of the company's Mazda3 compact sedan—which has been a best-seller for the automaker—fell 4% in July from a year earlier to 9,288 cars.