LOS ANGELES — Consumers jumped back into auto dealers' showrooms in July, helping to reverse June's slowdown in sales.
"Generally speaking, the numbers we are seeing coming out of July are a positive sign," said Jeff Schuster, an analyst for J.D. Power and Associates. "But I don't think that says everything is back on track. We are going to see this volatility and up-and-down movement for some time."
General Motors said its sales rose 25 percent in July compared with the same month a year earlier, after factoring out the Pontiac, Hummer, Saturn and Saab brands it closed or sold as part of its bankruptcy reorganization last summer.
Combined sales for GM's remaining brands — Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac — hit 199,432 vehicles for the month, the automaker said. Including the discontinued brands, sales rose 5.4 percent to 199,692. After brand consolidation, GM "has managed to gain market share with fewer brands. That is some positive momentum," Schuster said.
He thinks U.S. auto companies have survived the worst of the industry downturn. Ford, he said, was picking up market share on the strength of its new models. Although Chrysler's sales have not been as strong as those of its domestic rivals this year, its integration with Fiat, the Italian automaker, is proceeding and will start to pay off with new models over the next year or so.
"Everyone is in a much more positive position than they were a year ago," Schuster said.