U.S. June auto sales hit level not seen since July 2006

Tue Jul 1, 2014 5:09pm EDT
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By Bernie Woodall and Paul Lienert

DETROIT (Reuters) - U.S. auto sales hit levels in June not seen since before the financial crisis that led to the bankruptcy of two American automakers, posting the best annualized figures in eight years.

U.S. June sales rose 1.2 percent, beating expectations of a decline of 3 percent, and the seasonally adjusted annualized sales rate hit 16.98 million vehicles, the highest since the July 2006, industry consultant Autodata Corp said.

General Motors Co bucked Wall Street's low expectations as well as negative publicity over a flood of safety recalls, reporting a 1 percent rise in U.S. sales in June. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected GM's sales to fall about 6 percent.

John Krafcik, president of car shopping site TrueCar.com, said consumers are suffering from recall "fatigue" and tuning out the onslaught of bad news from GM and other automakers.

He added that GM's sales remain strong in part because consumers focus on brand names such as Chevrolet and Buick rather than the corporate name "General Motors."

Investors also showed faith in GM on Tuesday, sending its shares up 3 percent a day after the automaker's total for recalls in the half-year rose to 29 million vehicles.

Chrysler Group, Toyota Motor Corp, Nissan Motor Co Ltd and Hyundai Motor Co also reported year-to-year increases. They all topped analysts' expectations, as did Ford Motor Co. Honda Motor Co Ltd sales barely missed expectations.

"Sales in the first half of 2014 indicate a steadily recovering industry, and we expect this pace to increase as we move into the second part of the year," said Bill Fay, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager.   Continued...

General Motors World Headquarters is seen in downtown Detroit June 10, 2014. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook