Sales rose 19 percent from May 2009, marking the eighth-straight monthly increase, the longest such streak since June 2000, according to Bloomberg Data. The seasonally adjusted annual sales rate hit 11.8 million, beating analysts’ predictions for demand in the low-11-million-unit range.
Chrysler Group climbed 33 percent compared with May 2009, a month the automaker spent in bankruptcy. All three Detroit automakers beat analysts’ average forecasts by at least 6 percentage points.
Despite continuing a string of incentives it started in March, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. increased only 7 percent, its worst sales performance since posting declines in January and February during recall problems. Toyota is still trying to fix its image after its recent global recalls of more than 8 million vehicles to address unintended acceleration and braking problems, said Jeff Schuster, lead forecaster for tracking firm J.D. Power and Associates.
May sales finished stronger than J.D. Power had forecast, despite weak second and third weeks, analyst Schuster said. May’s sales rate is the highest since December’s 11.9 million, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
Both Ford and GM reported strong fleet sales to commercial buyers, which both Schuster and Levy pointed to as a sign of economic recovery. Schuster also said an increase in daily rental sales doesn’t concern him right now, as rental companies are replenishing fleets that aged during the recession.
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