DETROIT - From mini cars to monster pickups, sales of new cars and trucks surged in June and eased concerns that Americans would be turned off by slower hiring and other scary headlines.
Automakers sold nearly 1.3 million cars and trucks in June, up 22 percent from the same month last year. Chrysler posted its best June in five years. Sales soared at Volkswagen, which is on track for its best year in the U.S. since 1973.
The results allayed fears that growth would stall after a strong start to 2012. Earlier this spring, sales were on track to reach 14.5 million this year, boosted by mild weather and the post-earthquake return of Japanese cars to dealers. But the pace dropped to 13.8 million in May, as the stock market plunged and hiring slowed. In June, there was more bad news about jobs growth, and consumer confidence fell for the fourth straight month.
In this June 24, file photo Dodge cars are for sale at an auto dealership in Springfield, Ill. Chrysler reported Tuesday, that U.S. sales rose 20 percent, its best June in five years, thanks to demand across its lineup.
But buyers didn't go away. June's sales pace rose to 14.1 million, according to Autodata Corp. And if sales stay at that rate for all of 2012, it will be the industry's best year since 2007.
Falling gas prices, cheaper loans and new models like the Ford Escape and Dodge Dart drew buyers. A revived housing market lifted sales of pickups. And there was still plenty of demand from people who bought cars in the middle of the last decade and needed to replace them. Annual sales hit a high of 17 million in 2005, and those cars and trucks are now seven years old.
"If a family in Iowa's only mode of transportation is on the fritz, they are going to buy a replacement vehicle, even if Spain's economy is on the brink of collapse," says Alec Gutierrez, a senior market analyst at Kelley Blue Book.