2013 Ram 1500, Nissan Altima Are Standouts in Strong May Car Sales | Edmunds.com
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2013 Ram 1500, Nissan Altima Are Standouts in Strong May Car Sales


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Just the Facts:
  • The 2013 Ram 1500, Nissan Altima and Ford F-Series pickups were snapped up by buyers during May, as monthly sales were tallied on Monday.
  • "May car sales are coming in a tad stronger than predicted, driven by a significant rebound in full-size pickup truck sales due to a recovering construction market," said Michelle Krebs, Edmunds senior analyst.
  • The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu was one of the bleak spots in an otherwise rosy May car sales report, with sales tumbling 36 percent last month.

DETROIT — The 2013 Ram 1500, Nissan Altima and Ford F-Series pickups were snapped up by buyers during May, as monthly sales were tallied on Monday.

"May car sales are coming in a tad stronger than predicted, driven by a significant rebound in full-size pickup truck sales due to a recovering construction market," said Michelle Krebs, Edmunds senior analyst. "Small vehicles — cars and utilities — were also robust. Automakers report consumers took advantage of Memorial Day sales but they stress the momentum built from start to finish of the month and across all parts of the country."

Krebs added: "Records are falling right and left: GM recorded its highest monthly sales since September 2008 and Cadillac its biggest year-over-year increase since 1976; Ford had its best May since 2006; Chrysler its best May since 2007; and Nissan enjoyed record May sales."

The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu was one of the bleak spots in an otherwise rosy May car sales report, with sales tumbling 36 percent last month. A hurried revision of the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu was unveiled last Friday. Volkswagen of America bucked the trend, too, reporting 38,013 units delivered in May, a 1.7 percent decrease over May 2012.

"We saw an uptick in our consumer traffic and closing rates this month, which allowed us to set new records for Jetta and Passat," said Jonathan Browning, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, in a statement. "In a month in which the industry saw strong growth in the pickup truck segments, an area in which we do not compete, we are pleased to see healthy consumer demand for our passenger cars, especially the growing demand for our TDI clean diesels and hybrid lineup."

Nissan was one of the notables in the May sales report. Nissan posted a May U.S. sales record of 114,457 units, a gain of 25 percent over May 2012. Nissan Altima sales in May were 31,940, up 41 percent over the previous year. Sales of the Nissan Leaf finished May at 2,138, making it the second-best month ever for the Nissan EV, the company said.

"Our new products are hitting the sweet spot," said Jose Munoz, Nissan Americas senior vice president for sales and marketing, in a statement.

He pointed to the launches of the Nissan Altima, Pathfinder and Sentra as part of the reason for the sales jump. Nissan also slashed prices on several of its key models in May.

Chrysler car sales increased 11 percent in May, marking the 38th consecutive month that the automaker's U.S. sales have risen.

Ram Truck brand sales were up 24 percent, the largest percentage sales gain of any Chrysler Group brand in May, the automaker said.

"We continue to see strong retail sales throughout our product lineup," said Reid Bigland, head of Chrysler's U.S. sales, in a statement.

Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Compass recorded their best monthly sales ever.

Ford reported that its sales rose 14 percent last month and noted that the Ford F-Series posted a 31 percent increase — its best May sales since 2005 and the first time that the F-Series broke the 70,000 mark since March 2007.

"F-Series sales — fueled by construction growth and pent-up demand — reached their highest level in more than six years," said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, in a statement.

General Motors sold 252,894 vehicles in the U.S. in May, a 3 percent increase compared with a year ago.

Volume rose 40 percent at Cadillac.

"Cadillac is growing faster than it has in almost 40 years, the pickup rebound is in full swing and we're seeing strong retail demand for our crossovers," said Kurt McNeil, GM vice president of U.S. sales operations in a statement. "These are all powerful signs that the gradual recovery in the economy is becoming more broad-based. That's great news for the auto industry and General Motors."

Toyota reported monthly sales of 207,952 units in May, up a modest 2.5 percent.

"New vehicle sales are heating up along with the weather, and solid May results coupled with an excellent Memorial Day weekend provided great momentum as we move into the summer selling season," said Bill Fay, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager, in a statement.

Edmunds says: Car sales continue to chug along, an important indication of the direction of the U.S. economy.

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