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Carmakers log better US new-vehicle sales in May


MAJOR automakers on Monday reported better-than-expected US new-vehicle sales for May, posting the first monthly rise for the year as a strong economy and upbeat consumer sentiment drove demand.

US new-vehicle sales through April had fallen 3 per cent, fuelling expectations of a weaker year for automakers this year than last year; May sales were expected to remain weak.

Concerns of a downturn have been heightened by US President Donald Trump's threats to impose new tariffs on all Mexican imports.

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) reported a 2.1 per cent rise in sales as demand for both light- and heavy-duty pickup trucks remained strong. The Ram pickup, a major profit-driver for FCA, had a 33 per cent gain in sales from a year ago.

FCA and General Motors Co have both launched redesigned pickup trucks. Ford Motor Co has for decades built the single best-selling truck brand with its F-Series trucks, with the Chevy brand at No. 2 and Ram, a distant third. But in the first quarter of this year, Ram trucks outsold Chevrolet trucks.

Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp posted a 3.2 per cent sales increase, boosted by strong demand for its Camry sedans. Nissan Motor Co Ltd said its sales rose 0.1 per cent, driven by SUV and trucks, though sales in the first four months of the year had fallen more than the industry average. Hyundai Motor Co reported a 2 per cent rise in sales, driven by strong results for its SUV models; Honda Motor Co Ltd reported a 4.9 per cent drop in sales for May, driven by declining sedan sales.

Passenger car sales have fallen steadily as Americans abandon sedans for pickup trucks and SUVs. US auto sales are expected to be about 16.9 million units in 2019, a 2.5 per cent fall from 2018, said industry consultants J.D. Power and LMC Automotive. REUTERS