• Car sales in US run best pace since December 2007

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    CHICAGO: US auto sales accelerated in June to the best performance since December 2007 as analysts forecast more growth in the months to come.

    Total industry sales came in at an annualized pace of 16 million vehicles in June, up from 15.3 million in May and 14.4 million in June 2012, Autodata reported last week.

    The sales pace has not surpassed 15.5 million vehicles since the 2008 financial crisis began and fell as low as 9.1 million in the depth of the economic downturn. In the 14 years before the downturn, annual US auto sales had ranged from 15 million to 17 million vehicles.

    “It’s remarkable to think the industry is within striking range of those pre-recession numbers,” said Michelle Krebs, an analyst with the automotive website Edmunds.com.

    GM said it expects “continuing improvement in the auto market” as a result of a better employment outlook, modest income growth and a booming stock market.

    “American families are better off than they were at the beginning of the year,” GM sales chief Kurt McNeil said in a conference call. “They also believe that the economic expansion is going to continue, so they’re buying more homes, and more cars and trucks.”

    While the carmaker has not yet raised its forecast for total 2013 US sales beyond 15.5 million vehicles, it predicted a strong performance in the second half of the year.

    “We have good momentum heading into the second half of 2013: the economic outlook is solid and our launch vehicles are performing well in the marketplace,” McNeil added.

    Ford was also optimistic.

    “In terms of the industry sales going forward, we see some positive turns here in terms of the economic fundamentals,” Ford economist Jenny Lin said in a conference call. “With better economic fundamentals and improvement in job markets, we think this will be supportive of our industry strength going forward.”

    Total industry sales were up 9.2 percent from June 2012, while sales in the first half of the year were up 7.7 percent, according to Autodata.

    Toyota led the pack with a 14-percent gain to 195,235 vehicles in June. Sales for the first half of the year were up 6 percent at 1.1 million vehicles.

    “The auto industry led the economic recovery through the first half of 2013, kicking off a strong summer selling season, which we expect will carry into the second half of the year,” said Bill Fay, general manager of Toyota’s US division. “Sales in June were solid, and demand didn’t skip a beat.”

    The gains came as Toyota celebrated selling its 10 millionth Camry, which has held the crown for the top-selling car in the US for the past 11 years.

    Ford’s sales climbed 13 percent to 235,643 vehicles in its best June performance since 2006. Sales for the first half of the year were also up 13 percent at 1.3 million vehicles.

    Chrysler’s sales rose 8 percent to 156,686 vehicles in the company’s best June in six years. Sales for the first half of the year were up 9 percent at 908,332.

    “The fundamentals for continued industry gains in new vehicle sales remain intact,” Reid Bigland, Chrysler’s sales chief, said in a statement.

    GM’s sales increased 6 percent to 264,843 in June and were up 8 percent for the first half of the year at 1.4 million vehicles.

    Honda sales jumped 10 percent to 136,915 vehicles in June and were up 6 percent for the first half of the year at 745,578 vehicles.

    AFP

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