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Americans buy cars in force in May

June 4, 2014

A handful of the world's major auto manufacturers recently posted escalating transaction totals, showing that slow sales at the start of the year had more to due with harsh winter weather than curbed consumer optimism, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“Industry sales in May soared as consumer confidence improved and demand for new vehicles continued to strengthen,” Bill Fay, group vice president of Toyota Motor Sales USA, told Reuters.

General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, the nation's top three major auto manufacturers, beat out analysts' expectations for May as GM and Chrysler had their best May in seven years. Toyota and Nissan also roared past their respective sales forecast, with Nissan setting a sales record for any May in company history.

Consumers were out in force in April.
"We're very encouraged with what we see in a robust industry thus far this year,” John Felice, Ford's U.S. sales boss, told Reuters.

Felice added that demand was strong, particularly over Memorial Day weekend.

Meanwhile, Chrysler recorded a 17 percent sales increase in May.

“Our Jeep sport-utility vehicles and Ram pickups continued to do well in May as our dealers reported brisk May sales over five weekends and the Memorial Day holiday,” said Reid Bigland, head of Chrysler's U.S. sales.

The average transaction price for the average automobile was also up, according to research firm Kelley Blue Book, which reported the sales price for a new vehicle in May was $32,307, up $653 from the same month a year prior but down slightly from April.

KBB senior analyst Alec Guiterrez said the rise in year-over-year transaction prices “speaks to the strength of our economic recovery.”

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General Motors making moves despite recalls

GM has had a record number of vehicle recalls since the start of 2014, but that hasn't seemed to slow sales. GM was one of several auto makers to post sales totals well above the consensus forecast produced by nine analysts, according to Reuters. ?

GM sales soared 12.6 percent to 284,694 new vehicles in May, as all four of its brands had strong sales increases. Gains for Chevrolet and GMC were largely catalyzed by growing demand for their new pickup trucks and full-size SUVs.