Sales of United States passenger cars decline in July

The auto industry's move away from rental fleet sales weighed heavily on overall July results

Automakers have used low-margin sales to rental fleets to avoid factory shutdowns.

General Motors Co said on Tuesday it sold 25,852 vehicles in July in Canada, up 22 percent from a year earlier - a striking contrast to the company's performance in its home market.

Analysts have been predicting lower sales this year as demand levels out after an unprecedented seven straight years of growth.

USA automakers said Tuesday that sales of passenger cars declined in July, although demand for trucks and sport utility vehicles remained strong. Sales of the Ford Fusion midsize sedan dropped 42 percent, while sales of the Chevrolet Spark subcompact fell a whopping 82 percent. Ford Motor Co. was down about 2.5%, while General Motors Co. fell by 3.5%. The exceptions have been Fiat Chrysler, which is poised to benefit from the shift in consumer tastes away from cars toward pickups and sport utility vehicles, and Tesla Inc., which has soared in anticipation of the more affordable Model 3 sedan. The drop in annual sales pace for July compared to one year ago is equal to total output for four plants. New vehicle sales hit a record 17.55 million past year.

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Overall Ford sales in the United States dropped by 7.5 percent in July to 200,212 units, mostly because of a decline in fleet sales.

Compared to this time last year, "we're starting off at higher incentive levels; we've got even more elevated inventory levels and even worse inventory-quality problems" heading into the end of the model year, he said.

GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler have said second-half financial results likely will be lower than first-half results, in part reflecting production cuts in North America and pricing pressures. Car-shopping site Edmunds.com said the average price paid for a new vehicle in July was $34,558, 2% higher than the same month a year ago.

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