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Edmunds.com, TrueCar.com See July New Auto Sales Up

Sales of new cars in the U.S. are expected to increase in July from a year earlier, with Japanese automakers poised to see double-digit percentage sales gains, according to reports from Edmunds.com and TrueCar.com. While both firms estimated about 1.2 million new cars will be sold in July, Edmunds.com's forecast translated into a seasonally adjusted annual sales rate of 14 million light vehicles while TrueCar.com's translated into an annual sales rate of 14.1 million. Online automotive-information provider Edmunds.com expects new U.S. auto sales to jump 10% in July from a year earlier and to decline 9.2% from June. "July generally has the lowest mix of fleet sales every year, so this month tested the strength of the retail market," said Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell. "With a pace that's still on track for around 14 million vehicles, it's a good sign that fleet is not carrying the industry." In July 2011, Japanese automakers reported weak sales in the wake of Japan's earthquake and tsunami. Edmunds.com said it expects Honda Motor Co. (HMC, 7267.TO) to record a 54% increase in sales, while Toyota Motor Corp. (TM, 7203.TO) and Nissan Motor Co. (NSANY, 7201.TO) are expected to post sales gains of 30% and 16%, respectively. Among U.S. automakers, Edmunds.com said, Chrysler Group LLC sales are expected to rise 9.2%. Ford Motor Co. (F) and General Motors Co. (GM) are projected to see sales declines of 2.5% and 0.3%, respectively. July had 24 sales days, while the year-ago month had 26 sales days. Separately, industry-research site TrueCar.com said it expects industry-wide July U.S. auto sales, including sales by Germany's Volkswagen AG (VLKAY, VOW.XE) and South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co. (HYMLY, 005380.SE), to improve 11% from a year earlier and to decline 8.8% from June. Among Japanese automakers, TrueCar.com said it expects Honda sales to jump 45%, while Toyota sales are projected to increase 22% and Nissan sales to rise about 13%. Chrysler is projected to see sales rise 18%, the biggest gain among U.S. automakers, TrueCar.com said. It expects GM sales to edge up 0.3% and Ford sales to slip 1.1%. TrueCar.com also expects Volkswagen sales to climb 30% from a year earlier and Hyundai/Kia sales to improve 5.8%. Average incentive spending declined for the third straight month in July, TrueCar.com said. Average spending per unit for July is projected at $2,480, a 3.7% decline from a year earlier and a 2.7% drop from June. The firm noted that Japanese automakers are boosting incentive spending this summer and are becoming more aggressive in marketing their vehicles. Chrysler is a unit of Fiat SpA (FIATY, F.MI). Write to Nathalie Tadena at nathalie.tadena@dowjones.com. Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

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