DETROIT — U.S. auto sales grew at the fastest pace in eight years in June, surprising the industry and setting it up for a strong second half of the year.
Sales rose 1.2 percent over last June to 1.4 million cars and trucks, according to Autodata Corp. GM, Toyota, Hyundai and Nissan all saw increases over last June. Honda sales were flat, while sales at Ford and Volkswagen were down.
June's annualized sales rate — which estimates annual sales if they stayed at the same pace every month — was 16.98 million. That was the fastest pace since July 2006 and higher even than May, which also surprised the industry with its strength.
GM's sales were up 1 percent over last June despite a continuing parade of recalls.
Kelley Blue Book analyst Alec Gutierrez said GM is benefiting from its new lineup of SUVs, which hit the market at a time when buyers are gravitating toward bigger vehicles. Sales of the Chevrolet Tahoe large SUV nearly doubled to more than 11,000, while sales of the GMC Yukon more than doubled to 3,946. Cadillac Escalade sales were up 57 percent.
Toyota's sales rose 3 percent as the Camry and Corolla sedans both posted double-digit gains. Sales of the new 4Runner SUV were up 42 percent.
Ford's sales dropped 6 percent as the company cut back on discounts for the F-Series pickup, which is the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. Ford is trying to limit sales of the outgoing F-Series as it prepares to close its truck plants and change over to a new, aluminum-sided F-150 pickup, which will go on sale late this year. F-Series sales fell 11 percent in June to 60,560.
Other automakers said:
7Chrysler's sales jumped 9 percent on strong demand for the new Jeep Cherokee SUV and other models. It was the company's strongest June since 2007, with gains for Jeep, Ram, Dodge and Fiat.
7Honda's sales were flat. Sales of most models declined, including the Odyssey minivan and CR-V SUV, but sales of the Accord and Civic sedans were up.
7Nissan's sales were up 5 percent on strong sales of the new Rogue SUV as well as higher car sales. Sales of the Sentra were up 68 percent.
7Hyundai's sales rose 4 percent on the strength of the new Sonata sedan, which jumped 29.5 percent.
7Subaru's sales were up 5 percent on strong demand for the new Forester, up 30 percent.