Detroit’s Big Three took another pasting at the hands of the Japanese brands in the United States last month.

US brands’ light vehicle sales were off 16.3% to 745,156 units last month and were down 7% to 4,354,795 year to date.

GM suffered the most in June with sales plunging 24.2% to 320,885 (YTD: -6.8%; 1,898,797). Ford sales fell 11.9% to 240,924 (YTD: -11.5%; 1,342,905) and Chrysler was off 5% at 183,347 (YTD: -1.5%; 1,113,093).

Chrysler’s spin was optimistic as ever, though: “In a challenging market, Chrysler Group had softer sales in June than a year ago. We saw strong customer interest in our newly launched, fuel efficient models,” said Darryl Jackson, vice president – US sales. “Supported by the fuel economy message of our ‘Maximise Your Miles’ programme, Chrysler continued to show strong car sales with an increase of 55% over the previous year.

Chrysler brand car sales in June were up 104% year-over-year, while Dodge brand car sales increased 30%, the automaker said, adding that Jeep brand sales gained 19% over the previous year.

The Japanese rubbed it in again – with a still-recovering Mitsubishi up 25.3%, and Nissan up 18.1%, Honda up 7.3% and Toyota up 6.1% last month. YTD tallies weren’t much different with only Isuzu and Subaru posting negative results.

“The new Lancer and Outlander are well-received by new customers and current Mitsubishi owners,” said president & CEO Hiroshi Harunari. “Going into the summer travel season, our dealers are reporting excellent results from our new fuel-efficient sedan and SUV.”

“Tundra really hit its stride this month, posting a record sales pace,” said Jim Lentz, Toyota Motor Sales executive vice president. “In a short five months the new truck’s earned its stripes with both loyal Toyota owners and those new to the brand.”

The Toyota Division posted best-ever June sales of 216,870, up 6.9% over last June.  And the Lexus Division reported best-ever June sales of 28,869 units, an increase of 0.4%, the automaker said.

Europeans? Mercedes off 9.4% in June and Porsche –4% YTD. Otherwise, all ledgers in black ink – still.

“Porsche achieved its highest figure for the month of June in the history of the company in the USA and Canada,” the automaker said. “In particular, this performance is thanks to the second generation of the sporty all-terrain Cayenne, which was launched on the American continent in March 2007 and is being excellently received by customers.”

Of course, the domestic brands still dominate but only import light trucks – up 5.6% – made a gain in June while, YTD, imported cars and light trucks both made gains.

Top 10 model charts remained much the same – three Japanese cars ahead of Chevy’s Impala and the Big Three’s pickups ahead of Honda’s CR-V, now US-made.

“The Civic and CR-V gained an incredible amount of momentum in the first half of 2007,” said Dick Colliver, executive vice president of American Honda. “We expect the small car and crossover SUV segments to remain strong for the second half of the year, putting Honda on pace for a 12th straight record year.”

Graeme Roberts