• US auto sales rise in June but pace slows

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    CHICAGO: Buoyed by robust demand from US consumers for crossover SUVs and trucks, automakers reported strong June sales in those categories over the weekend, while overall sales figures pointed to a cooling market.

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    Nissan, Ford, Fiat Chrysler’s US unit, Subaru and Honda all reported sales increases. General Motors, Toyota and Volkswagen fell short.

    The drop in sales at GM and Toyota—the two biggest automakers in the US market—suggested a slowdown in growth.

    Total US auto sales rose 2.5 percent in June from a year ago, according to industry research firm Autodata. The June sales pace was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 16.66 million units, down 2.0 percent from a year ago and 1.4 percent from May.

    “We have been expecting a retracement in vehicle sales this year and view [16 million to 17 million] as a reasonable sustainable pace,” Barclay’s automotive analyst Michael Gapen told Agence France-Presse.

    Michelle Krebs of Autotrader told Agence France-Presse that she expected another record year in 2016, but one that indicates slowing growth.

    “We think this year we may see some bumps along the way in the second half, but we still think we will eke out a record. But, next year is questionable,” said Krebs, who predicted 2016 sales of 17.5 million to 18 million vehicles.

    Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, reported a 5.6 percent US sales drop to 198,257 units. It saw declines in its Corolla and Camry sedans of 11 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

    GM, the largest US automaker, struggled as it pivots away from sales to rental fleets, to focus more on retail sales. The automaker said June sales fell 1.6 percent from a year ago to 255,210 vehicles, after they fell 13.4 percent in May.

    Volkswagen sales plummeted almost 22 percent as the company deals with the aftermath of the diesel-emissions scandal. The automaker reached a $15 billion settlement in the United States on Tuesday to address the company’s use of software on 2.0-liter diesel cars that cheated emissions tests.

    Toyota’s overall sales declines were countered by far better figures for its RAV4 SUV, which saw a 15.5 percent increase. GM reported strong sales growth in its Chevrolet and GMC trucks and SUVs.

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