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Automakers look set for solid US sales in June

[CHICAGO] Automakers on Friday looked set for solid US sales in June in a robust market revved up by demand for crossover SUVs and light trucks.

GM, the largest US automaker, struggled again as it pivots away from sales to businesses, such as rental fleets, to focus on retail sales.

GM said June sales fell 1.6 percent from a year ago to 255,210 vehicles. The specialist firm Edmunds.com had anticipated a smaller 1.3 per cent decline. In May, GM sales fell 13.4 per cent.

The June drop was partly due to a seven percent fall in sales to businesses, such as rental fleets, while efforts to gain retail share led to a more than one percent increase in sales, GM said.

The company reported strong sales growth in its Chevrolet and GMC trucks and sport utility vehicles. It also said it is anticipating scheduled production increases for pickups and SUV crossovers in the second half of the year.

Chevrolet sales grew three per cent to its best June sales in 10 years, and Buick and Cadillac saw growth of two per cent and five per cent, respectively.

"Positive economic indicators like historically low interest rates, stable fuel prices, rising wages and near-full employment provide the environment for strong auto sales to continue in the second half of the year," said Mustafa Mohatarem, GM's chief economist, in a statement.

"These positive factors continue to point toward another record year for the industry," he said.

Ford, the number-two US automaker, reported a six per cent bump from June 2015 to 240,109 vehicles, driven by its F-Series trucks which were up 29 per cent from a year ago. The model had its best June performance in more than a decade, according to Ford.

FCA US, the US unit of Italy's Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, saw a seven percent sales increase from a year earlier to 197,073 units, marking its best June in 11 years. Jeep, Dodge and Ram Truck brands all posted gains.

Other automakers will report US June sales through the day. According to Edmunds.com, total sales for the month will come in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 16.9 million vehicles, up 3.8 per cent from a year ago, putting sales on track to beat the first six months of 2015's record-breaking year.

AFP