While most analysts and industry observers will focus on the lessening year on year plunges in US sales recorded last month (especially by a certain Detroit brand with a blue oval on the building), there was a small but significant change in an important pecking order - Chevrolet's Silverado truck line was nudged back to third highest selling US market vehicle (year to date) by Toyota's Camry sedan, itself kept out of the top slot by 29,390 units of that perennial top dog - Ford's F-series truck line.

The F-series (179,632) outsold Camry (150,242), arch-rival Silverado (149,949), Honda's Accord (131,034) and Toyota's Corolla/Matrix (121,643) to (yawn, once again) top the half year top five, according to WardsAuto.com's selling-day-adjusted data. And all of 'em were North American-made, if not all by Detroit automakers.

The big picture was encouraging, with June US light vehicle sales off 30.5% year on year to 857,627 compared with a half-year fall of 35.1% to 4,795,807.

You can almost hear the thoughts of sales analysts in automaker offices from Dearborn to Torrance - "please let this mean bottom has finally been reached".

There's been a lot of talk lately of the US market settling at around 10m units this year. The Detroit News said June's selling rate actually tracked above 10m for most of the month but demand fell off near the end as potential buyers held off to see what they might get from the government's CARS scheme (aka 'cash for clunkers') which should kick in 30 days or so hence, once final details are sorted.

In the end, the final result was 9.69m, slightly below May's rate of 9.91m, the Motown paper reported last night.

Chrysler emerged, renewed, from bankruptcy last month to post a 44.2% year on year fall to 67,984 units. New best friend Fiat will help in time, say from 2011, but till then Chrysler faces a lot of challenges culling deadwood products and imaginatively freshening and marketing the remainder until the new tech debuts on Fiat platforms. Not an easy task.

Chrysler claimed a 1+ percentage point increase in retail market share with June sales of 66,324 units. Retail sales declined 16%, though, and the company did not build any fleet sale vehicles last month so that volume fell 95%.

"We are proud our new company starts out its first month with increasing market share and continued strong retail sales," said sales chief Peter Fong. "It's a testament to our strong dealer network and loyal customers who supported Chrysler during the formation of the new company."

GM, currently on its knees in bankruptcy court pleading with the judge to OK a complex split into 'new' and 'old' (for the liquidation of) companies booked a 36% dip to 174,850 units last month; like Chrysler, the June fall was less than that for the year so far (-40.4%; 947,810).

Ford, still proud of not needing to hold out a begging bowl to the Obama administration, unlike its two home town rivals, was June's Detroit star - sales off a mere 13.6% to 153,210 (vs -32.3% to 763,407 in the first half). Earlier this week it announced its second third quarter production hike.

Which is good news.

Import brands were a bit mixed especially when you scrutinise June's tallies versus the H1 counts. Toyota was off 34.6% to 131,654, Nissan down 26.2% to 58,298 and Honda fell 32.4% to 100,420.

"We're seeing signs of strength in our light truck segments with solid gains for Honda's Odyssey and Pilot models this month," said the brand's US sales chief John Mendel.

Hyundai booked June sales of 37,943 units which it said was up 3% over May and off 24% year on year (Wards said was -27.2% adjusted for selling days).

The Korean brand crowed it had outsold Dodge in June for the first time, making Hyundai the sixth best-selling brand in the US.

"Through the first six months of 2009, Hyundai has achieved an all-time high market share of about 4.2%, up from 3.1% for the same period last year.  That's a 35% improvement, which we believe to be the single best year-over-year share improvement in the industry," said VP Dave Zuchowski.

"While our sales fell from last year, June 2008 was an all-time, any-time record sales month for Hyundai that was accomplished in a markedly different business climate, with high gas prices fueling huge demand for our fuel-efficient line-up."

Kia sales fell just 8.9% last month to 26,845 units and the brand is down only 6.5% YTD to 147,404.

The Korean brands' rising US market share has attracted increased coverage both in the US and at home of late.

BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen results largely reflected those for the year to date but Porsche volume plunged 67.3% to 902 units versus -36% and 9,659 year to date.

VW said its 'clean diesel' models enjoyed their best sales month since re-launch with 5,072 units, or 26% of total sales.

Here in UK where diesel has dominated for so long, it's intriguing to see TDI versions accounted for 81% of Jetta SportWagen (Golf wagon to us) sales, 40% of Jetta sedan sales, and 29% of Touareg sales across the pond in June. The SportWagen also posted its best sales month ever with sales of 1,982 units.

Proof that if you build 'em, they will come.

"Volkswagen of America is encouraged by the momentum of our clean diesel TDI sales," said COO Mark Barnes. "It appears that US consumers are starting to realise the many benefits of today's clean diesels-vehicles that attain more than 30% better fuel economy while emitting 25% less greenhouse gas emission, all without sacrificing driving dynamics."

"June sales were similar to the current weather in the Northeast - rainy but warm with some bright spots," said BMW president Jim O'Donnell, whose group sales were off 23.5% to 20,849 units last month; better than -27.5% YTD. "The premium market continues to react to rational products."

Graeme Roberts