General Motors Co. posted its best month for U.S. auto sales in almost five years in June.
The automaker said sales rose 6% to 264,843 vehicles over the same month a year earlier. It was its highest total since September 2008.
The results come against a backdrop of healthy industry sales. Automakers sold about 1.4 million vehicles last month, up roughly 6% from the prior year.
“There is little question that the automotive market has strong momentum as we close out the first half of 2013,” said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive. “Looking forward, all the key fundamentals are in alignment to continue the current growth trend, with production capacity limitations being the only major visible risk.”
Booming truck sales, linked to the recovery of the housing and construction industries, were responsible for much of GM’s growth last month.
Sales of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup increased 29% and 33%, respectively.
“GM's growth goes beyond trucks, though,” said Alec Gutierrez, an analyst with auto information company Kelley Blue Book.
“Growth in the small-car and crossover segments have also helped to move the needle for GM with their Cruze and Equinox showing strong gains,” he said.
Gutierrez noted that GM is making sales gains without resorting to big discounts.
“We have good momentum heading into the second half of 2013: the economic outlook is solid and our launch vehicles are performing well in the marketplace,” said Kurt McNeil, GM's vice president of U.S. sales operations.
Cadillac sales rose nearly 15% for the month. Chevrolet sales were up more than 7% and GMC sales rose almost 5%. Buick fell 4%, hurt by big dips in LaCrosse and Regal sedan sales.
“Within the last month we saw a slowing stock market and a stalled unemployment recovery, but the automotive market continues to shine through it all,” says Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell. “The first half of 2013 was every bit as strong as the auto industry could expect at the beginning of the year, and there’s no reason why the next six months can’t maintain the same momentum.”
Chrysler posted its best June since 2007 with sales up 8% year-over-year, the automaker reported. Dodge Durango sales led the way with a 39% increase, while Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram trucks helped boost sales with 33% and 23% increases, respectively. Jeep sales overall were flat, but should get a boost later this summer with the arrival of a new Jeep Cherokee, which will replace the outgoing Liberty model.
“Chrysler is weaning itself some from the outsized percentage of daily rental car sales it had been selling, which puts the automaker in a healthier financial position," said Michelle Krebs, an analyst with auto information company Edmunds.com.
While most automakers posted sales gains in June, Volkwagen saw its business decline because of a dearth of new models. The German company said its U.S. sales fell 3.2% to 36,957 vehicles last month compared to the same period a year earlier.
“Gains in the Jetta and Passat were offset by a rather significant decline in the Golf, which has seen a decline as consumers hold out for the 2014 redesign expected to drop later this year,” said Alec Gutierrez, an analyst with auto information company Kelley Blue Book.
Ford Motor Co. reported a healthy boost in sales for the month of June, a 13% year-over-year increase, thanks in large part to the automaker’s F-series trucks. This was the best June for Ford trucks since 2005, in fact, with sales up 24% to take the F-series into its 23rd consecutive month of increases.
Economy cars also sold well. Sales of the Fiesta, Focus and C-MAX hybrid totaled more than 35,800, up 39% from last year, making last month the carmaker’s best June for small cars in 13 years. The Escape crossover SUV also continued its strong sales streak, posting best-ever monthly sales at 28,694 vehicles.
“We’re particularly encouraged by strong retail share gains, especially in coastal markets,” said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president of marketing, sales and service.