Toyota and Honda bounced back from quake-related woes a year ago and the Detroit 3 beat low expectations as U.S. auto sales jumped 22 percent in June.
Automakers, aided by U.S. consumers replacing aging vehicles, sold 1,285,499 light vehicles last month. That pushed the seasonally adjusted annual selling rate to 14.1 million, relieving some of the gloom after May's 13.8 million rate -- the year's first SAAR below 14 million.
Automakers were cautious but upbeat. They credited new models, pent-up demand, wider credit availability and solid fleet sales.
"We knew there were going to be headwinds coming into this calendar year. We still see headwinds," said Kurt McNeil, GM's vice president of sales operations. "But at the end of the day, we're calling for moderate, gradual economic growth."
Toyota brand boss Bob Carter said June's upswing gives U.S. sales a first-half selling rate of 14.3 million -- "and we expect the industry to maintain that pace through the end of the year." At the start of the 2012, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. had predicted 13.5 million for the year.
-- Passenger cars continued to outsell trucks in June. Car sales increased 25 percent to 669,305 units, although truck volume rose 19 percent to 616,194 units. In the first half, cars lead trucks, 3.9 million to 3.4 million.
-- June sales jumped 60 percent for Toyota Motor Sales, which rode replenished stocks and a slew of redesigned models ranging from the 2012 redesigned Toyota Camry to the Scion FR-S. Toyota did it without heavy fleet sales, which were less than 9 percent of its June mix after running at 15 percent the first five months. All told, Toyota claimed 13.8 percent of the U.S. market, up from 10.5 percent a year earlier.
-- American Honda sales soared 49 percent, led by Acura's 66 percent gain. Honda division rose 46 percent. The automaker's June share: 9.7 percent, up 1.7 points from 12 months earlier.
-- The Detroit 3 all posted gains in June: up 20 percent at Chrysler Group, 16 at General Motors and 7 at Ford Motor. Solid fleet sales helped Detroit automakers beat analysts' expectations. GM said its fleet sales jumped 32 percent while retail volume rose 8 percent. Ford's fleet mix was 35 percent in June, although that's down from 37 percent a year earlier, said Erich Merkle, Ford's top sales analyst.
-- All Chrysler Group divisions added sales volume in June, although Dodge finished up just 2 percent and Ram 11 percent. Fiat sales more than doubled to 4,004 units, Chrysler brand jumped 63 percent and Jeep rose 23 percent. For those who count, that's 27 straight months of sales increases for the automaker, the last 24 by double digits.
-- SUVs led Ford Motor's overall 7 percent sales increase in June. The Ford Escape had its best month ever -- up 28 percent -- with 40 percent of that coming from the redesigned 2013 model. An overall utility vehicle gain of 25 percent provided the lift for the Ford brand as cars were flat and trucks rose 1 percent. Lincoln sales increased 3 percent.
-- The Ford F- series pickup remains king, but the Chevrolet Silverado pickup is back as America’s No. 2 seller in June after being bumped recently by the Toyota Camry. However, the redesigned 2012 Camry leads Silverado through the first six months, 213,903 to 194,508.
-- It’s a sedan traffic jam on June’s best-seller list. Mid-sized and small cars are packed tightly in the sales race. It’s No. 3 Toyota Camry with 32,107 sales followed by Chevrolet Malibu at 31,402 and Honda Accord at 28,924, then No. 7 Honda Civic 27,500, Toyota Corolla 26,647 and No. 9 Ford Fusion at 24,433.