Dealers in the United States sold an impressive 1,630,066 new cars and light trucks last month.
It's a number that bears repeating because it was a record for May, 0.3 percent higher than the previous May record set in 2000.
Truck sales also set a record with 872,992. That was 5.0 percent more than last year, the previous high. Those are the only two Mays in which truck sales have exceeded 800,000 units.
Obviously, the increase in the price of gasoline has not cooled the truck market. Sales of full-sized pickups in May were up 4.2 percent over last year, and sales of big SUVs were within 1 percent of last year's.
The seasonally adjusted annual rate ballooned to 17.4 million in May (see box at right). It was the highest rate of the year and up significantly from 16.8 million in April. The May rate probably cannot be sustained; nevertheless, it is worth a fervent "Gee whiz!"
Incentives helped the industry reach its May heights, but probably no more than in other months.