Automakers posted mixed results Wednesday for their US sales, with Chrysler's scoring its best July performance in five years and Toyota posting big gains, while rivals Ford and General Motors stumbled.
Chrysler has now reported sales gains for 28 straight months, as July sales rose 13 percent to 126,089 vehicles.
"July was another solid month for Chrysler Group as we again demonstrated our disciplined and methodical approach to growing sales and profits," said Reid Bigland, head of US sales.
The third largest US automaker forecast that July's overall industry sales would come in at a seasonally-adjusted, annualized rate of 14 million once all automakers report.
Toyota saw sales jump 26 percent to 164,898 vehicles in the month after its inventories were shattered a year ago by supply shortages in the wake of the devastating Japanese quake and tsunami.
Ford sales fell four percent to 173,966 as low-margin fleet sales dropped 16 percent. More profitable retail sales rose two percent in July.
"We think the retail market is still holding up relatively well," Ford sales analyst Erich Merkle said in a conference call.
While overall demand has slowed, Ford said it still expected total industry sales to come in at 14.5 to 15 million vehicles this year. But given July's disappointing results, it will likely be close to 14.5 million.
GM saw sales fall six percent to 201,237 vehicles as retail sales slipped three percent and fleet sales dropped 15 percent due to planned reductions in low-margin sales to rental companies.
"Signs of a housing recovery and good news on consumer confidence and household income should help keep the light vehicle selling rate in the 14 million range and drive seasonally higher truck sales as we move toward fall," said Kurt McNeil, head of GM's US sales operations.
Volkswagen, which is aggressively expanding in the United States, posted a 27 percent jump in sales to 37,014 vehicles. It was the German automaker's best July since 1973.
"We're pleased to see consumers embracing our strong lineup of award-winning, fuel-efficient, high-quality vehicles and we expect our growth to continue," said Jonathan Browning, chief of Volkswagen Group of America.