June auto sales brought zero temperatures to the boardrooms of the US big three auto manufacturers - General Motors, Ford Motor Company and Chrysler - thanks to the double whammy of high gas prices and the cold breath of overseas competition.

The picture at GM is arguably not as dire as the numbers suggest. Although June sales were down year-on-year by an eye-watering 26%, sales are measured against a month in which the automaker crested the wave of its highly successful 2005 'employee-pricing' promotional program. In all. GM moved 407,513 light vehicles, down from 550,829 in June 2005.

Total sales at Ford sagged 6.9% on the year-ago period, with just 269,404 vehicles rolling out of dealers' lots. A 14% fall in light truck sales depressed the overall picture despite an increase of 7.1% in car sales. Said the company: "Higher gas prices are contributing to lower truck sales, particularly in the large SUV and pickup categories."

Nor was DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler division excluded from the overall Detroit gloom, selling 185,946 vehicles, down 15% on June 2005. The Mercedes-Benz division, however, notched a 14% increase in sales, lifting these by 14% to 20,802 units.

Meantime, the Toyota juggernaut continued to roll, selling 223,018 vehicles last month - driven by a 22% jump in passenger-car sales. Whooped evp Jim Lenz: "Fuel-efficient products continue to drive the market, even as consumers are likely becoming acclimated to today's fuel prices."

However, one foreign auto brand not joining the June hit parade was Nissan Motor Company, whose 19% dive in US sales suggests - mayhap - its revered ceo Carlos Ghosn has not quite mastered the art of walking on water - yet.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff