Chrysler said today its sales of cars and trucks in the U.S. increased 20% in June compared with the same month last year as pent-up-demand, credit availability and a gradually improving economy continued to help the automotive industry record sales gains.
General Motors, meanwhile, said its sales increased 15.5% in June, nearly double analyst expectations.
GM's results were led by the Buick brand, which increased 26.8% in June. Sales increased 14.9% for GMC, 14.8% for Chevrolet and 11.6% for Cadillac.
GM's increase was helped by an increase in fleet sales. GM's sales to fleet customers increased 36% in June while retail sales increased 7.9%.
Ford said its sales increased 7% in part because of strong sales of its SUVs. Sales of the Ford Explorer increased 35% and sales of the all-new 2013 Ford Escape increased 28%.
Total sales for the Ford brand increased 7.2% while sales of Lincoln increased 2.5%
Nissan said its total sales in the U.S. increased 28.2% in June compared with the same month last year. Sales for the Nissan brand increased 24.6% and Infiniti sales increased 66.1%.
Hyundai's sales increased 8% in June.
The Auburn Hills automaker's increase was its 27th consecutive year-over-year increase. In June, the automaker's sales gain was led by a 63% increase in sales for the Chrysler brand.
Chrysler's sales also were helped by the all-new Dodge Dart compact car that began trickling into showrooms and year-to-date sales of the Fiat 500 topped 20,000 -- more than the total sold for the entire year in 2011.
Analysts predict U.S. automotive sales will increase 18% to 20% in June compared with the same month last year with Asian automakers posting the biggest increases.
However, the pace of industry sales is expected to be slower than May. In May, industry sales fell short of expectations.
Reid Bigland, Chrysler's head of U.S., said last week that industry sales during the first four months of 2012 were stronger than expected because of unseasonably warm weather.
"Particularly in February and March -- I would attribute it to a very mild winter in the north, and that likely pulled a little bit of the April and May sales forward," Bigland said.
Now, Bigland said he expects industry sales to slow slightly for the remainder of the year, but does view that as a problem. Bigland said he still expects industry sales will top 14.2 million this year, or about 11% more than 2011.
Consumer confidence dropped in June to 62 -- its lowest mark since January, according to the Conference Board, and the unemployment rate rose to 8.2% from 8.1%.
But Bigland said that most major economic indicators -- with the exception of housing -- have improved substantially since the Great Recession.
"There are many signs out there that the U.S. economy is doing OK and it is a lot better than what it was three years ago," Bigland said.
Asian automakers are expected to report the largest gains in June. Last year, Toyota, Honda and Nissan were hobbled by a lack of inventory caused by an earthquake and tsunami in Japan that knocked out power and production in Japan.
"The remarkable recovery of Toyota and Honda continued in June," Jesse Toprak, vice president of market intelligence for TrueCar.com said in a report last week.
Toprak estimates that Toyota's June sales increased 68% and Honda's sales increased 51%.
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