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U.S. Automotive Sales Rise By Double Digits in May

Sales of U.S. automobiles rose sharply in May, by nearly 20%, marking the fourth straight month of increases. Year-over-year performance improved markedly as well.

Chrysler and Hyundai led the pack with a 33% increase in sales, respectively, year over year. Meanwhile, GM’s four core brands—Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac—together posting a 32% increase over May 2009. Ford's sales rose 22% to 196,671 vehicles for the month while Honda, Nissan, and Toyota grew sales by 17%, 24.8%, and 6.7%, respectively. Autodata Corp. estimates sales of cars and light trucks jumped 19% in May, to 1.1 million vehicles. This translates to 11.68 million vehicles on an annualized basis. To put things in perspective, this marks an increase over year-ago unit increases of 9.86 million and April 2010’s 11.2 million rate, respectively.

Many automotive manufacturers attribute the uptick to higher demand among buyers, reflecting greater consumer confidence. Auto makers also reported higher purchases among fleet accounts, primarily rental car operators. All in all, it appears consumers are enthusiastic about new models and platforms.

“Each of our brands has new products that are being received well by customers,” said Carlisle, vice president of GM’s U.S. sales operations. By his count, GM’s new vehicles now account for about one in every four retail sales in the U.S. Specifically, Carlisle cited the success of such models as the Chevrolet Equinox, Chevrolet Camaro, Buick LaCrosse, Enclave and Regal, GMC Terrain and Cadillac SRX and CTS Wagon. Buick sales also rose 37% for the month to 12,582 units–the eighth consecutive month of double digit year-over-year sales increases.

At Ford, sales of Ford’s F-Series pickup trucks jumped 49% to 49,858 units, their highest level since March 2008. This was reflected by robust fleet sales, which were up 32%, the company said. All totaled, Ford, Lincoln and Mercury dealers delivered 192,253 new vehicles in May–a 23% increase versus a year ago.

“Our laser focus on fuel efficiency and quality is paying off for our customers and for Ford,” said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president, U.S. marketing sales and service. “Our customers are rewarded because Ford resale values continue to increase at a rate higher than the overall industry–and they are rewarding us with increased purchase consideration.”

The mood was equally exuberant at Chrysler, which last, month sold more than 100,000 units in U.S.—the first time since March 2009. May also marks the fourth consecutive month of month-over-month sales increases for Chrysler and the second consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains. More importantly, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep® and Ram brands all posted year-over-year sales increases.

“[Chrysler] continues to show improvement each month, with May being our strongest month this year, exceeding overall industry growth for the second month in a row,” said Fred Diaz, president and CEO, Ram Truck Brand and Lead Executive for U.S. Sales.


LUXURY MARKET PERFORMANCE

Mid and entry-level brands were not the only models cruising off showrooms in May. Several ultra high-end brands, including Audi and Mercedes, also posted strong gains in May.

Sales of Audi cars and SUVs for the month of May 2010 increased 22.7% compared to May 2009, marking the third consecutive time this year that Audi set a monthly sales record. May 2010 also ranks as the fifth-best month all-time in the U.S. market.
The May 2010 results were buoyed by the continued extraordinary public response to the Audi Q5, which established another all-time sales record in the month. May 2010 also stands as the best month of the year for Audi A4, A4 Avant and Q7 sales.

Mercedes-Benz USA reported May sales of 19,176 vehicles, which translates into an increase of 26.7%. This reflects gains in both the Mercedes-Benz passenger car and light-truck categories, with the strongest performer of the month being the 9th generation E-Class—which expanded to include the wagon and cabriolet models—with sales of 5,476 (up 140.7%). Mercedez-Benz flagship sedan, the S-Class, marked increased gains with sales of 1,085 (up 21.2%) and the newly introduced supercar and brand halo—the SLS AMG—reported strong initial sales of 168. The top performer on the luxury light truck side was the versatile M-Class SUV with sales of 2,264. On a year-to-date basis, the company sold 87,970 new vehicles, an increase of 25.8% over last year.

Sources: Autodata Corp., United Business Media, GM 
 

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