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by Tim Beissmann

New vehicle sales in the US were up 19 percent for the month of May on the back of solid results from the Detroit Three.

The Chrysler Group was the biggest mover of the locals, adding 33 percent compared with the heavily depressed figures of 2009, for a total of 104,819 May sales. Through the first five months of 2010 Chrysler is up eight percent overall, from 402,900 to 434,731.

Ford Motor Co enjoyed another strong month posting 196,671 sales, 22 percent above May 2009. It maintains second position overall for 2010 – ahead of Toyota – thanks to an increase of 30 percent, the best of the US market’s major players. Including Volvo sales, a total of 805,662 (compared with 618,369 for 2009) places it just under 80,000 vehicles shy of market leader General Motors.

GM had a commanding month of May, smashing through for 223,410 sales, which represents more than a quarter of its total sales for the year. GM sales have increased 14 percent over the first five months of the year, 882,885 versus 2009’s 772,733.

Toyota enjoyed more modest gains, climbing just seven percent for May (162,813 versus 152,583 for 2009) and is now 11 percent ahead year-to-date for the first five month of 2010.

Trucks, SUVs and fleet vehicles were behind much of the total market gains for May, with more than 1.1 million vehicles sold. It was the seventh straight month that sales have increased compared with the diminished financial crisis figures of 2008 and 2009, some of the lowest levels seen since the early 1980s.

Year-to-date sales for the market are up 17 percent from just below four million to more than 4.6 million, although analysts are still predicting a choppy recovery throughout 2010.

Annual forecasts now sit at 11.6 million vehicles for the year, up from the 11 million predicted in the first four months and well ahead of last year’s disastrous 27-year-low 10.4 million.

The two other major Japanese importers continued their solid starts to 2010. Honda gained 19 percent in May and remains 13 percent ahead of the same time last year, while Nissan performed 24 percent better than in 2009 and is almost 90,000 vehicles ahead over the first five months, up 30 percent overall with 375,762 units.

Hyundai was another of the stronger performers, with its sales increasing 28 percent to 80,476 for the month. Its 2010 change is hovering just above the industry average at 19 percent.

BMW Group was one of the few sliders in the pack. The Bavarians lost four percent in May thanks mostly to a parts shortage that stopped shipments of new 2011 models arriving. Overall for 2010 BMW sales have increased by five percent.

The news is worse for Suzuki however, with the Japanese small car brand suffering another big loss in May, down 26 percent to 1903. It finds itself 53 percent behind 2009’s levels, and has not enjoyed a positive month since July 2008.

(with Reuters)




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