U.S. Auto Sales Climb 8%, Buoyed by Big Pickups

 Automakers delivered 1.44 million cars and light trucks in the U.S. last month compared with 1.33 million in May 2012, according to Autodata Corp.May volume equates to an annual sales rate of 15.31 million vehicles compared with 13.95 million units a year earlier and 14.92 million units in April.U.S. sales gains last month were fueled by a 25% surge in demand for fullsize pickup trucks (to 174,000 units). The trend favored domestic brands, which boosted volume 9% to 662,900 vehicles.Ford deliveries climbed 14% to 246,000 units as demand for its F-Series big pickups soared 31% to 71,600 units.

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 Automakers delivered 1.44 million cars and light trucks in the U.S. last month compared with 1.33 million in May 2012, according to Autodata Corp.

May volume equates to an annual sales rate of 15.31 million vehicles compared with 13.95 million units a year earlier and 14.92 million units in April.

U.S. sales gains last month were fueled by a 25% surge in demand for fullsize pickup trucks (to 174,000 units). The trend favored domestic brands, which boosted volume 9% to 662,900 vehicles.

Ford deliveries climbed 14% to 246,000 units as demand for its F-Series big pickups soared 31% to 71,600 units. Sales rose 3% to 252,900 vehicles at General Motors and 11% to 162,500 units at Chrysler.

American volume for Asian carmakers grew 8% to 652,000 vehicles in May, paced by Nissan (+25% to 114,500 units). Group deliveries increased at Toyota (+3% to 208,000 units), Honda (+5% to 140,000 units), Subaru (+34% to 39,900 units) and Mazda (+19% to 24,300 units). Hyundai and Kia eked out gains of 2% to 68,400 vehicles and 1% to 52,300 units, respectively.

European marques hiked U.S. sales 6% to 129,800 vehicles last month. Luxury makes reported solid increases, including Mercedes-Benz (+10% to 24,700 units), BMW (+14% to 25,200 vehicles) and Audi (+15% to 13,200 units. Volkswagen brand deliveries slid 2% to 38,000 units.

U.S. light-truck volume climbed 11% to 718,900 units in May with advances in every sector except vans and small pickup trucks. Deliveries of midsize and fullsize SUVs jumped 13% to 71,400 units and 24% to 27,400 units, respectively.

Car sales grew 6% to 725,700 units as demand for midsize cars cooled to a gain of less than 1% to 347,500 units. Deliveries of small and luxury cars rose 11% to 281,300 units and 12% to 96,800 units, respectively.