By DEE-ANN DURBIN
DETROIT -- U.S. auto sales slowed slightly in June but still maintained a healthy pace despite a record-setting string of safety recalls at General Motors and a slowdown in truck sales at Ford.
GM (GM), Toyota (TM) and Nissan all saw increases over last June. Sales at Ford (F) and Volkswagen were down.
Car buying site TrueCar.com expected U.S. sales to rise 1 percent over last June to 1.4 million cars and trucks. That was lower than May, when exuberant buyers flush with tax returns boosted sales 11 percent to 1.6 million.
Sales were particularly strong at the end of May, which meant a slow start to June. But Ford's U.S. sales chief John Felice said sales picked up at the end of June as automakers started promoting Independence Day sales.
Analysts saw plenty to like in June. LMC Automotive raised its full-year U.S. sales forecast from 16.1 million vehicles to 16.2 million vehicles based on the combined strength of May and June. That's up from 15.6 million vehicles in 2013.
LMC said automakers are carefully balancing production with demand, which helps them maintain profits. At the same time, buyers are taking advantage of lower interest rates.
"The U.S. auto market is arguably in the best position and health it has been in since well before the great recession," said Jeff Schuster, LMC's senior vice president of forecasting
GM's sales were up despite a continuing parade of recalls. GM's total safety recalls for the year reached 29 million vehicles Monday, when the automaker announced six new recalls of 8.4 million cars. Two of those recalls were for ignition switch problems, the same issue that began the company's recall crisis in February.
GM sales were up 1 percent over last June. Sales of GM's best-selling vehicle, the Chevrolet Silverado pickup, were flat, but SUV sales were strong. 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.
Toyota's sales were up 3 percent as the Camry and Corolla sedans both posted double-digit gains.
Ford's sales dropped 6 percent as the company cut back on discounts for the F-Series pickup, which is the country's best-selling vehicle. Ford is trying to limit sales of the outgoing F-Series as it prepares to close its truck plants later this year and change over to its new F-150 pickup. F-Series sales fell 11 percent in June to 60,560.
Nissan's sales were up 5 percent on strong sales of the new Rogue SUV as well as higher car sales. Sales of the Sentra small car were up 68 percent.
Chrysler's U.S. auto sales jumped 9 percent in June on strong sales of the new Jeep Cherokee SUV and other models. It was the company's strongest June since 2007, with gains for the Jeep, Ram, Dodge and Fiat brands.
Low Interest Rates Help Boost June Auto Sales
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