CHICAGO – U.S. auto sales maintained a steady pace of growth in June and consumers were opening their wallets for more expensive models and upgrades, industry data showed Wednesday.
“We just wrapped up the U.S. auto industry’s best six months in a decade, driven by strong demand for pickups and crossovers,” said Kurt McNeil, head of sales at General Motors (IW 500/5).
“People feel good about their jobs and the direction the economy as a whole is taking, so the second half of the year should be strong too."
GM forecast that the industry's seasonally adjusted sales pace would hit 17.3 million vehicles in June once all the data were reported. That would be down from the 17.9 million pace set in May but would still be the strongest June since 2005.
Carmakers were cashing in. Average new car prices in June were $209 higher than May and $821 higher than June 2014, according to Kelly Blue Book.
GM reported June sales fell 3% from a year ago to 259,353, largely as a result of a drop in fleet sales to rental car companies. Sales for the first six months of the year were up 3% at 1.5 million vehicles.
The largest U.S. automaker said its retail sales grew 7% to earn the highest June market share since 2011.
Rival Ford's sales grew 2% to 225,647 vehicles in June and were up 2% at 1.3 million vehicles for the first half of the year.
Ford (IW 500/6) drastically outpaced the industry in terms of average transaction prices. Ford prices grew by $2,700 from a year ago, largely thanks to its popular new F-series pickup truck, which hit a record average price of more than $44,000.
Chrysler Fiat posted its best June since 2006 as sales grew 8% to 185,035 vehicles while sales for the first half of the year were up 6% at 1.1 million vehicles.
Toyota (IW 1000/8) sales grew 4% to 209,912 vehicles in June and were up 6% for the first half of the year at 1.2 million vehicles.
Honda (IW 1000/29) sales rose 4% to 134,397 in June and were up 2% so far this year at 753,001.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015