DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co and Chrysler Group LLC on Thursday reported U.S. auto sales in July that fell short of estimates, with sales of Ford's Fusion midsize sedan dropping 12 percent due to a limited supply of the popular model.
Ford, the second-largest U.S. automaker, said its U.S. sales last month totaled 193,715 vehicles, up 11 percent from a year ago. Analysts on average had expected 200,000.
Chrysler, a unit of Italy's Fiat SpA, sold 140,102 vehicles in July. Analysts had expected, on average, 146,275.
Ford and Chrysler continued to show strong sales of their pickup trucks, but both companies also reported weaker-than-expected car sales. Prior to Thursday's sales report, analysts said Ford's manufacturing capacity constraints may have tempered its sales performance during July.
Nissan Motor Co said its U.S. sales in July rose 10.9 percent to 109,041, below the 111,115 expected by five analyst polled by Reuters. Volkswagen sales said its July U.S. auto sales fell 3.3 percent.
Total industry sales in July are expected to rise 14 percent to 16 percent, led by surging demand for full-size pickup trucks. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect the annual sales rate in July to hit 15.8 million vehicles, which would be the second best performance of the year after June's 16 million.
Chrysler said four of its five brands reported sales increases, led by Ram Truck with a gain of 31 percent. Sales of the Ford F-Series trucks were up 22.6 percent.
In June, new-car sales rose 9 percent, racing to the industry's strongest monthly pace since late 2007 as the stronger housing market drove demand for brawny pickups. Sales of big trucks have grown three times faster than the overall sector.
Strong demand for pickups is particularly good news for U.S. automakers, which dominate that sector and reap large profits from those vehicles. Chrysler launched a new version of its Ram pickup last fall, while General Motors Co started selling its redesigned Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks in June.
(Reporting by Paul Lienert and Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by John Wallace)
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