US Auto Sales in May Top Expectations

US Auto Sales in May Top Expectations

Some models broke sales records or notched their best results since the 2008 financial crisis.

NEW YORK -- Leading automakers Tuesday reported strong U.S. sales increases for May with some models breaking records or notching their best results since the 2008 financial crisis.

General Motors (IW 500/5), Ford Motor (IW 1000/8), Chrysler, Toyota (IW 1000/8) and Nissan (IW 1000/31) all reported May sales that exceeded expectations. Some automakers cited rising consumer confidence as driving the boom.

"The momentum we generated in April carried into May, with all four brands performing well in a growing economy and 17 vehicle lines posting double-digit retail sales increases or better," said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president of sales operations at GM.

GM's results again showed the nation's largest automaker is enjoying strong interest from customers despite a series of recalls this year, including a massive recall of older model cars it no longer makes due to ignition problems linked to at least 13 deaths.

GM said May's sales of 284,694, an increase of 13% from last May, marked its best monthly sales since August 2008. Edmunds had forecast an increase of 6.7% at GM.

GM said its Buick line had its best May since 2005, while Cadillac and GMC had their best May since 2007.

Ford sales jumped three percent to 254,084, ahead of Edmunds's estimate for an increase of 0.9%. The number-two U.S. automaker said its Ford Fusion and Ford Escape notched their best monthly sales ever, while the Ford Explorer had its best sales month since 2005.

Ford's strongest growth came in the sport utility segment, which gained 9.5%, while cars rose 1.7% and trucks slipped 0.8% compared with May 2013.

Chrysler, a unit of Italian company Fiat Chrysler, reported a sales increase of 17% to 194,421, better than the 14.4% increase projected by Edmunds. The number-three U.S. automaker said sales of Jeep jumped 58%, the largest increase of any Chrysler Group brands. It was Jeep's third consecutive month of record sales. Ram pickup truck sales rose 17%.

"Our Jeep sport-utility vehicles and Ram pickups continued to do well in May as our dealers reported brisk May sales over five weekends and the Memorial Day holiday," said Reid Bigland, head of U.S. sales.

Toyota's U.S. sales came in at 243,236 units, an increase of 12.6% from last year. "Industry sales in May soared as consumer confidence improved and demand for new vehicles continued to strengthen," said Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager.

"Toyota had its best month in six years led by strong Camry, Corolla and Hybrid sales."

Nissan said May sales jumped 18.8% to 135,934. The Nissan Sentra set a May sales record of 21,932, breaking a previous peak reached 1984.

Edmunds had last week projected an overall increase of 7.3% to 1.5 million; however that forecast likely is too low given that the auto website underestimated sales for the four largest companies that sell in the U.S.

-- John Biers, APF

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014

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