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Large Pickups Continue to Pull Sales Forward in May 2013

Continuing strong demand for large pickups this spring bolstered May's total light-vehicle sales in the U.S. market, according to early reports from automakers.

Ford Motor Co. and Fiat-Chrysler Group posted significant sales gains in May 2013, compared with the same month in 2012--mainly due to light-truck sales. Ford officials said that the increase in commercial truck purchases is related to positive changes in the housing and energy sectors.

General Motors posted a single-digit percentage gain in May, as its redesigned 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra large pickups began to reach dealer showrooms. The company's compact cars and the Cadillac brand were also sales headliners in May.

Among other multi-franchise automakers, Nissan Group achieved one of the larger double-digit increases, although its Infiniti luxury division sold fewer units in 2013 than in May of 2012. The other major Japanese groups--Toyota and Honda Group--posted single-digit increases, which were not as strong, possibly due to the fact that those manufacturers are not as well positioned in the full-size truck market, even though Toyota Tundra sales improved in double digits.

Among the European automakers, Volkswagen Group posted a small gain, with Porsche and Audi brands offsetting a small dip from VW brand sales. BMW and Daimler Groups both achieved double-digit increases in sales from one year ago.

At the brand level, Ford sold more light vehicles than any other nameplate in May, and General Motors' Cadillac brand posted one of the largest year-over-year sales gains on a percentage basis. Other brands that achieved some of the best percentage sales gains in May 2013, compared with a year ago included: Porsche, Subaru, Jaguar, and Nissan. In fact, among the four independents, Subaru and Mazda sold more new vehicles in May compared with the same month last year.

In May 2013, automakers in the U.S. market sold 1,442,061 new cars and light trucks, up 8.2% from totals in May 2012, and ahead of last month's totals by 7.8%, according to J.D. Power research. The May sales pace translated to a seasonally adjusted annual selling rate (SAAR) of slightly above 15.2 million units, which was significantly higher than the 13.9-million-unit pace in May 2012.

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