Best June in 6 years keeps U.S. auto sales in front of recovery

Best June in 6 years keeps U.S. auto sales in front of recovery

If Junes good news on vehicle sales lasts, it is safe to say the auto industry is booming again. In the best sales month in six years, June sales rose 9 percent from a year ago. Year-to-date sales are up 8 percent. And the SAAR (seasonally adjusted annual sales rate) for the month is an impressive (and unexpected) 15.98 million. Analysts sales forecasts for the year range from 15.3 million to 15.5 million.

Even moderate economic growth will be enough to keep the auto sales rate in the second half of the year at healthy levels, around the mid-15 million-unit mark, General Motors chief economist Mustafa Mohatarem said in a statement.

June sales were driven by pent-up demand, low interest rates and the ever gradually recovering economy. Pickups, small cars and crossovers were all big sellers.

Importantly, transaction prices also rose. The average transaction price of new vehicles sold through mid-June was $28,900, the highest ever for June, according to J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.

As in recent months, Ford improved at a greater rate than other brands, boosting sales 13 percent. Sales of Fords small cars were up 39 percent. But all the Detroit Three did well, with Chrysler sales up 8 percent and GMs up 6.5 percent. Indeed, Chrysler saw its 39th straight month of increased sales.

Individual truck models blew sales out of the water. Chevrolet Silverado sales rose 29 percent, GMC Sierras 33 percent, Chrysler Rams 23 percent and Ford F-series 24 percent. Without trucks, GM sales would be up only 1 percent. Many of the truck sales were to fleets, which needed more construction vehicles to keep up with rising new home demand, another positive indicator for the economy.

International brands did well, too, taking 53.5 percent of the market. Nissan sales rose 13 percent (no doubt helped by price cuts across the lineup in May), Toyota was up 10 percent (its trucks up 14 percent) and Honda 10 percent. Mercedes saw its 44th straight month of sales gains. Subaru sales jumped 42 percent.

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