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July sales: Nissan, FCA strong; F-Series returns to form; VW has a pulse

Auto industry carries momentum into a strong July.

It should come as no surprise that the U.S. auto industry remained robust in July; absent natural disasters, the summer months tend to be strong for automakers.

A look at luxeThe luxury segment results are also in. Lexus finished the month up 9.1% with 29,816 sales. Mercedes-Benz trailed with 27,526 and BMW--unable to sustain its huge mid-year push--brought up the rear with 26,970. YTD, BMW leads with 195,593; Mercedes-Benz is right behind with 192,496 and Lexus trails at 188,664 units sold.

BMW Group's 2015 roller coaster ride continued unabated in July. MINI was down 10.7% (after a gangbuster June) and the core brand only managed a 2.1% improvement (despite a similarly explosive prior month). Whatever changed, it's clear that the momentum didn't carry over.

At Volvo (when was the last time we had something to say about Volvo other than "flat"?), things are finally moving. A 14.8% bump in July contributed to moving the chains on YTD totals too: They're now up 2.2% vs. a year ago. If they can maintain momentum for a few more months, they'll be pacing the industry in no time.

Audi reported its 6,865th consecutive month of sales increases in the U.S. (55th, actually) and, surprising precisely nobody, continues to sell every A3, Q3 and Q5 it can import whilst moving a whopping 215 allroad wagons.

Mid-packDown the hallway in Herdon, Volkswagen managed to post a gain of 2.4% in July--still lagging the industry as a whole, but moving in the right direction.

Mazda took a hit in July on vanishing Mazda2 and Mazda5 sales. MX-5 sales helped offset the missing models somewhat, but even combined with the CX-5's modest bump, it wasn't enough to bolster the brand to a positive sales differential. Subaru keeps Subaruing, now up more than 13% YTD having cleared 300,000 units in yet another record July.

The big boysFCA and Nissan were the first to report in. FCA finished strong on predictably healthy sales from Jeep and Ram (which seems to have peaked) and continued strength from the core Chrysler brand's sedans (Town & County wasn't so fortunate). Nissan and Infiniti both posted strong months and padded their YTD improvements. Honda also posted a strong month, up 6.5% on the strength of the CR-V; it would have been even better for Honda if Pilot weren't still spinning up.

Toyota is the first volume manufacturer to report a bit of a slip. Effectively flat (down 0.6%) on slower sales for Camry, Corolla, Avalon and Prius, Big months for Highlander, 4Runner, Tacoma and Tundra weren't enough to overcome the four-door slips.

Keep on truckin'Ford finally has some good news to report when it comes to its F-Series pickup: despite recent bad press, the perennial best-seller ticked off its first sales improvement in 2015, posting a 4.8% improvement vs. a year ago (where it did 4.6% better than 2013). Is this a momentary blip, or has Ford stopped the bleeding? We'll know more after August.

Across town, the Silverado/Sierra twins are positively storming. Silverado sales alone were up 33.9% in July, which may have been enough to overtake the F-Series if it had posted another weak month, but as it stands, closed it out 10,000 units short.

July year-over-year:

- Acura up 19.5%, 14,915 - Alfa new, 48 - Audi up 20.8%, 17,654 - Bentley up 3.5%, 208 - BMW up 2.1%, 26,970 - Buick up 17.6%, 20,791 - Cadillac down 7.1%, 14,154 - Chevrolet up 7.8%, 188,790 - Chrysler up 10%, 25,722 - Dodge down 13%, 37,649 - Fiat down 15%, 3,235 - Ford up 4.3%, 213,195 - GMC up 1.4%, 48,777 - Honda up 6.5%, 131,409 - Hyundai up 6.0%, 71,013 - Infiniti up 22.2%, 10,433 - Jaguar up 4.6%, 1,242 - Jeep up 23%, 73,216 - Kia up 7.7%, 56,311 - *Lamborghini up 3.3%, 63 - Land Rover up 7.9%, 5,011 - Lexus up 9.1%, 29,816 - Lincoln up 21.3%, 9,536 - Maserati down 15.5%, 957 - Mazda down 7.1%, 27,157 - **Mercedes-Benz up 1.2%, 27,526 - MINI down 10.7%, 5,191 - Mitsubishi up 23.9%, 7,868 - Nissan up 6.7%, 120,439 - Porsche up 10%, 4,730 - Ram up 1%, 38,157 - Scion down 24.6%, 3,865 - smart down 67.4%, 441 - Subaru up 10.5%, 50,517 - *Tesla up 13.3%, 1,700 - Toyota down 0.6%, 187,365 - Volkswagen up 2.44%, 31,300 - Volvo up 14.8%, 5,619

2015 year-to-date

- Acura up 12.8%, 102,002 - Alfa new, 368 - Audi up 12.4%, 111,269 - Bentley down 3.4%, 1,457 - BMW up 6.4%, 195,593 - Buick down 3.1%, 127,105 - Cadillac down 2.4%, 95,053 - Chevrolet up 3.3%, 1,242,409 - Chrysler up 19%, 195,970 - Dodge down 16%, 294,791 - Fiat down 13%, 25,033 - Ford up 2.1%, 1,459,704 - GMC up 11.8%, 313,490 - Honda up 1.6%, 797,323 - Hyundai up 2.5%, 442,163 - Infiniti up 10.1%, 74,713 - Jaguar down 4.5%, 9,078 - Jeep up 21%, 474,905 - Kia up 5.0%, 367,263 - *Lamborghini up 3.3%, 441 - Land Rover up 21.1%, 37.323 - Lexus up 13.6%, 188,664 - Lincoln up 8.1%, 56,648 - Maserati down 4.8%, 6,261 - Mazda up 0.3%, 186,153 - **Mercedes-Benz up 7.7%, 192,496 - MINI up 18.3%, 35,451 - Mitsubishi up 25.1%, 57,412 - Nissan up 4.6%, 792,642 - Porsche up 9.7%, 29,868 - Ram up 7%, 269,103 - Subaru up 13.8%, 322,935 - Scion down 19.5%, 28,796 - smart down 32.2%, 4,065 - *Tesla up 13.3%, 11,900 - Toyota up 3.7%, 1,259,957 - Volkswagen down 1.89%, 205,742 - Volvo up 2.2%, 34,985

*Based on estimates from Automotive News. ** NOT including Sprinter

Note that last month's highlights and lowlights listed below are merely a selection of some of the month's bigger movers.

Highlights (sales up > 40%)VW Golf family, up 174.6% to 6,717Subaru WRX/STI, up 85.3% to 3,716Chrysler 200, up 85% to 15,108Buick Encore, up 68.1% to 6,826Lincoln MKC, up 60% to 2,455Audi Q5, up 47.4% to 4,700Audi A3, up 46.3% to 3,167

Lowlights (sales down > 30%)Fiat 500L, down 78% to 314Chrysler Town & Country, down 43% to 6,440Audi allroad, down 41.3% to 215Cadillac ATS, down 38.5% to 1,588Ford Expedition, down 37.5% to 2,730Ford C-MAX, down 35.9% to 1,918

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