Salesman Brad Vogelgesang checks that vehicle doors are locked at the end… (Bloomberg )
If consumer confidence is lagging, it’s not hurting enough to stop people from buying cars.
Most of the major automakers posted healthy U.S. sales gains in June and said they are pleased with how the domestic market has performed during the first half of this year.
General Motors Co. said it sold 248,750 vehicles in June, a 16% rise over the same period a year ago and the company’s highest monthly sales figure since September 2008. The Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac brands all logged double-digit increases.
“Across the board, June was a strong month for GM,” said Kurt McNeil, vice president, U.S. Sales Operations. “The combination of new products, available credit, lower fuel prices and modest economic growth was a stronger influence on consumer behavior than economic and political uncertainty."
Automakers said the annual pace of sales in June and for the first half of the year was above 14 million vehicles, the best rate in years.
The sales gains are coming despite tepid consumer enthusiasm for spending. An index of sentiment compiled by the Conference Board slid to 62 in June from 64.4 in May, the fourth consecutive decline.
Chrysler Group said it posted sales of 144,811 vehicles in June, a 20% increase from the same month a year earlier and the company’s best June since 2007.
“June also marked our 27th consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth…. we have steadily increased sales, improved quality, added production and created jobs,” said Reid Bigland, Chrysler’s sales chief.
One sign of the health of the industry is that the transaction price for vehicles continues to rise with consumer demand.
The average transaction price for light vehicles in the United States was $30,508 in June 2012, up $849 or 2.9% from June 2011 and up $148 or 0.5% from May 2012, according to auto price information company TrueCar.com.
"Despite the relative slowdown in the last two months, the auto industry continues to experience improved profitability with strong year-over-year sales, historically high transaction prices and precise incentives spending," said Jesse Toprak, TrueCar's analyst.
Ford Motor Co.said its June U.S. sales rose 7% to 207,759 vehicles compared to the same month a year earlier.
Toyota Motor Corp.said its sales rose 60.3% to 177,795 units in June. The big increase was largely attributed to recovery from an inventory and production crunch created by the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami.
Nissan North America said its U.S. sales in June rose 28.2% to 92,237 vehicles compared to the same month a year earlier.
Volkswagen of America said it sold 38,170 vehicles in June, a 34.2% increase over the same month a year earlier. It was both the best June and the best first six months of the year for the VW brand since 1973.
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