auto car sales
US new vehicle sales in July continued to show signs of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic Image Credit: EPA/Gulf News archives

Reports from the two major automobile markets of US and Germany point to early signs of demand recovery as showrooms reopen. Corona lockdowns had hit demand for new cars stalling sales, but July figures show signs of order books improving.

US new vehicle sales in July continued to show signs of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, as Toyota Motor Corp on Monday posted its lowest sales decline since the virus outbreak slammed the sector in mid-March.

The Japanese automaker said its sales in July fell 19 per cent versus the same month in 2019, to 169,484 units. That was Toyota's best month since before the pandemic shuttered North American production for two months and led to closed showrooms across numerous US states.

The rebound in U.S. auto sales since hitting a bottom in April has seen major automakers scramble to ramp up production and boost weak inventories at dealerships, especially in states where they remained open throughout the shutdowns.

The rebound in sales, though, could be threatened by surging cases in southern and southwestern US states, which have increased uncertainty over the US economic recovery.

Hyundai Motor Co reported a year-on-year gain of 0.6 per cent in US sales for July, selling 57,677 units.

“Achieving an overall sales increase despite the ongoing pandemic is a tremendous accomplishment and speaks to the depth and quality of our product lineup and resiliency of our dealers,” Hyundai's North American sales chief, Randy Parker, said in a statement.

The seasonally adjusted annualised rate for light vehicles sold in July was estimated at 14.52 million units, according to Wards Intelligence.

General Motors last week said its ability to repay loans depended on a continued economic recovery and the assumption that US new vehicle sales would finish the year at around 14 million units.

Meanwhile, Germany's car industry has seen demand picking up after coronavirus-related restrictions were eased and auto industry exports are expected to rise, a survey published by the Ifo economic institute on Tuesday showed.

Business expectations, demand and order books all improved last month, Ifo said, but it cautioned that the survey's indicator for the current business situation was still negative in July.

Volkswagen and Daimler have said customers have returned to showrooms after corona lockdowns eased, resulting in a gradual rebound in demand in Europe and China.