Thu, Jul 04, 2013 - Page 15 News List

US auto sales hit best pace since December 2007

AFP, CHICAGO

US auto sales last month surged to their highest since December 2007 as analysts forecast more growth in the months to come.

Total industry sales came in at an annualized pace of 16 million vehicles last month, up from 15.3 million in May and 14.4 million in June last year, Autodata reported on Tuesday.

The sales pace has not surpassed 15.5 million vehicles since the 2008 financial crisis began and fell as low as 9.1 million in the depth of the economic downturn.

In the 14 years before the downturn, annual US auto sales had ranged from 15 million to 17 million vehicles.

“It’s remarkable to think the industry is within striking range of those pre-recession numbers,” said Michelle Krebs, an analyst with the automotive Web site Edmunds.com.

General Motors (GM) said it expects “continuing improvement in the auto market” as a result of a better employment outlook, modest income growth and a booming stock market.

While the automaker has not yet raised its forecast for total US sales beyond 15.5 million vehicles for this year, it predicted a strong performance in the second half of the year.

“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,” McNeil added.

Ford was also optimistic.

“In terms of the industry sales going forward, we see some positive turns here in terms of the economic fundamentals,” Ford economist Jenny Lin said in a conference call.

“With better economic fundamentals and improvement in job markets, we think this will be supportive of our industry strength going forward,” Lin said.

Total industry sales were up 9.2 percent from June last year, while sales in the first half of the year were up 7.7 percent, according to Autodata.

Toyota led the pack with a 14 percent gain to 195,235 vehicles last month. Sales for the first half of the year were up 6 percent at 1.1 million vehicles.

“The auto industry led the economic recovery through the first half of 2013, kicking off a strong summer selling season, which we expect will carry into the second half of the year,” said Bill Fay, general manager of the Japanese automaker’s Toyota division.

“Sales in June were solid, and demand didn’t skip a beat,” Fay said.

Ford’s sales climbed 13 percent to 235,643 vehicles in its best June performance since 2006. Sales for the first half of the year were also up 13 percent at 1.3 million vehicles.

Chrysler’s sales rose 8 percent to 156,686 vehicles in the company’s best June in six years. Sales for the first half of the year were up 9 percent at 908,332.

GM’s sales increased 6 percent to 264,843 last month and were up 8 percent for the first half of the year at 1.4 million vehicles.

Honda sales jumped 10 percent to 136,915 vehicles last month and were up 6 percent for the first half of the year at 745,578 vehicles.

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