Nissan Motor Co., Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Group and Subaru posted double-digit increases in May sales while General Motors, Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. recorded smaller gains.
Nissan tallied a May U.S. sales record of 114,457 units, a gain of 25 percent on redesigned models such as the Sentra, Pathfinder and Altima. Volume at the Nissan division rose 31 percent, offsetting a drop of 25 percent in deliveries at the Infiniti brand.
Ford said sales rose 14 percent last month, with car volume up 9 percent, utility vehicle sales advancing 15 percent and truck deliveries jumping 18 percent. The company’s retail volume advanced 17 percent and F-Series pickups surged 31 percent to 71,604.
Sales rose 15 percent at the Ford brand and 0.4 percent at Lincoln.
At Chrysler, sales rose 11 percent in May, with the company’s car sales climbing 16 percent and light truck deliveries advancing 9 percent.
Sales rose 24 percent at the Ram brand, 23 percent at Dodge, 1 percent at Jeep and Fiat, while volume at the Chrysler brand slipped 2 percent.
Ram pickup deliveries rose 22 percent to 31,672. SUV deliveries were also strong last month, with Jeep Grand Cherokee sales up 21 percent and Durango volume rising 24 percent.
At Honda, May sales volume rose 5 percent, with deliveries at the Honda brand advancing 5 percent, offsetting a 1.5 percent decline at Acura. Demand for the redesigned Accord and Honda’s light trucks was especially strong, the automaker reported.
GM, meanwhile, recorded a 3 percent gain. While GM’s retail sales rose 9 percent, its car sales slipped 6 percent and fleet volume dropped 10 percent. The company’s truck sales climbed 15 percent and crossover demand rose 3 percent.
Deliveries of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups advanced 22 percent or more.
Volume rose 40 percent at Cadillac, 7 percent at GMC, and 1 percent at Chevrolet. Buick sales slipped 3 percent.
While demand for Chevrolet’s small cars rose, Malibu deliveries slumped 36 percent and have now declined 18 percent for the year.
GM outsold rival Ford by only 6,875 units last month, though GM maintains a lead of more than 100,000 units for the year. Ford has outsold GM only twice — in March 2011 and February 2010 — over the last 15 years.
Helped by strong Forester, Outback and Crosstrek demand, Subaru posted record monthly sales of 39,892 in May, an increase of 34 percent over May 2012.
Toyota said its May sales were up 2.5 percent, with volume up 2 percent at the Toyota brand, 4 percent at Lexus and 9 percent at Scion.
For the second consecutive month, sales at the Volkswagen brand slid, with May volume off 1.7 percent, despite an uptick in consumer traffic and closing rates, and new May sales records for Jetta and Passat deliveries.
Mazda ended a 4-month sales skid with a 19 percent gain in May deliveries on higher Mazda6 and CX-5 volume.
May sales at Hyundai increased by 2 percent to 68,358 vehicles, its second-best month ever, Hyundai CEO John Krafcik said in a May 31 tweet. Vehicle inventory remains tight, yet Hyundai managed to post a 33 percent increase in Elantra compact sales, Krafcik said.
Strong dealer showroom traffic has automakers and analysts expecting overall industry sales to reach as many as 15.5 million vehicles this year, up from 14.5 million last year.
That would keep the U.S. light-vehicle market on pace for its best year since 2007.
Rising consumer spending, attractive financing offers and a recovering housing market have buoyed demand for light vehicles, notably pickups and crossovers. In addition, aging cars and trucks have forced many Americans into the market for replacement vehicles, analysts and industry executives said.
The housing and construction recovery, relatively affordable gas prices and high inventory levels at the Detroit 3, along with nearly $5,000 or more in cash rebates on the Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado and Ram, will keep pickup demand strong, Kelley Blue Book analyst Alec Gutierrez said last month.
New or redesigned models such as the Honda Accord, Cadillac ATS, Acura RDX, Ford Fusion and Hyundai Santa Fe are also driving demand higher.
Some dealers said May sales were helped by Memorial Day holiday deals that were extended through early June by some automakers. The early holiday this year also helped drive May sales, some analysts say.