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Tesla Sales Down, GM and Toyota Up Slightly in 2nd Quarter

Much of the auto industry, with the notable exception of Tesla, reported modest sales growth in the three months through June as high interest rates, high vehicle prices and uncertainty about the economy weighed on consumers.

Sales in late June were also slowed by disruptions at car dealers stemming from a cyberattack on a company that supplies software and data services to dealerships.

Cox Automotive, a market research firm, estimated on Tuesday that 4.1 million new cars and trucks were sold in the second quarter in the United States, up a little from the period in 2023. That’s a marked slowdown from the year’s first three months, when sales grew 5 percent. In the first six months of 2024, 7.9 million new vehicles were sold, an increase of 3 percent from the first half of last year, Cox said.

Slow growth is likely to continue through the end of the year, said Jonathan Smoke, Cox’s chief economist. “The market is roiled by uncertainty,” he said. “We probably can’t quite keep the pace of sales of the first half, but we aren’t expecting a collapse in sales.”

Cox has forecast that 15.9 million new cars and trucks will be sold in the United States this year. That would be an increase from the 15.5 million sold last year, but still well below the 17 million vehicles sold annually before the pandemic.

General Motors said on Tuesday that it sold nearly 700,000 cars and light trucks in the United States in the second quarter, an increase of less than 1 percent from the period last year. The company said it was its best performance since the fourth quarter of 2020.

The quarterly total included nearly 22,000 electric vehicles, up 40 percent from a year earlier. Almost all were models that use G.M.’s more advanced Ultium battery technology. Its top-selling electric models were the Cadillac Lyriq, a luxury sport utility vehicle, and the Chevrolet Blazer, also an S.U.V.

G.M. said sales in the first six months of 2024 totaled 1.3 million vehicles, down slightly from the same period in 2023.

Toyota sold more than 621,000 vehicles in the second quarter in the United States, an increase of 9 percent from the year-ago period. In the first three months of the year, Toyota’s sales rose 20 percent.

The Japanese automaker, the world’s largest, is still getting a boost from hybrid and plug-in hybrid models, whose sales have picked up significantly as consumer interest in electric vehicles has tailed off. Toyota sold nearly 250,000 hybrid and electric models in the second quarter, a rise of 63 percent from the period in 2023.

Reflecting the softening demand for E.V.s, Tesla said its global sales fell 4.8 percent, to around 444,000, in the second quarter from the period a year ago. The company’s sales have fallen for two consecutive quarters; they declined 8.5 percent in the first three months of the year from a year earlier.

Tesla does not report sales for the U.S. market. Cox estimated that Tesla’s U.S. sales fell 16 percent in the second quarter, to 175,000 cars.

The company’s global second-quarter sales were higher than analysts had expected, supported by price cuts in some markets and the company’s offer of loans carrying an interest rate as low as 1 percent on the Model Y sport utility vehicle.

Tesla once had the market for electric cars almost all to itself, but it has faced growing competition from Chinese carmakers like BYD, Nio and SAIC. The Chinese brands undercut Tesla on price in their home market while offering features like dashboard screens that can be rotated by voice command.

BYD said on Monday that its second-quarter electric vehicle sales jumped 21 percent from a year earlier, and 40 percent when including plug-in hybrid cars.

In Europe, Tesla was in fifth place in April in electric car sales, according to Schmidt Automotive Research, behind Volkswagen; Geely Auto, which owns Volvo and Polestar; Stellantis, which owns Peugeot and Fiat; and BMW.

Tesla’s market share for electric vehicles in the United States is expected to fall below 50 percent this year as G.M., Honda and other established carmakers offer models with newer designs than the Model Y and Model 3, which account for 95 percent of Tesla sales.

Stellantis — the maker of Chrysler, Dodge, Ram and Jeep vehicles — suffered a sales decline of 21 percent in the second quarter, to about 345,000 cars and trucks.

As a result, Stellantis slipped behind Honda and Hyundai-Kia in sales. Honda said its U.S. sales rose 3 percent in the second quarter, to more than 356,000 vehicles. Hyundai and Kia together sold 421,558 cars and trucks.

Ford Motor is expected to report sales figures on Wednesday.

Cox said the average price of new vehicles sold domestically in May was $48,389, near the record of about $50,000 set at the end of 2022.

High interest rates have also dampened demand. The average interest rate paid on new-vehicle loans in June was 10 percent, the highest in 24 years, Cox said.

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