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Business

US auto sales surprise with strength in June

Up 1.2 percent in June over ‘13

Workers assembled a 2015 Chrysler 200 in Sterling Heights, Mich. The company had its strongest June since 2007.

AP

Workers assembled a 2015 Chrysler 200 in Sterling Heights, Mich. The company had its strongest June since 2007.

DETROIT — US auto sales grew at the fastest pace in eight years in June, surprising the industry and setting it up for a strong second half of the year.

Sales rose 1.2 percent over last June to 1.4 million cars and trucks, according to Autodata Corp. GM, Toyota, Hyundai, and Nissan all saw increases over last June. Honda sales were flat, while sales at Ford and Volkswagen were down.

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June’s annualized sales rate — which estimates annual sales if they stayed at the same pace every month — was 16.98 million. That was the fastest pace since July 2006 and higher than May, which also surprised the industry with its strength.

Jesse Toprak, an auto analyst for Cars.com, said buyers are out because of low interest rates, a strong stock market — which improves confidence — and great new vehicles. An easing in lending standards is also adding more potential buyers.

‘‘We’re getting set up on a very good footing ,’’ Toprak said. ‘‘The last two months have exceeded expectations, which tells us that the consumer demand is very strong.’’

May sales were helped by five sunny weekends and the Memorial Day holiday, which got June off to a slow start. But Ford’s US sales chief, John Felice, said sales picked up at the end of last month as automakers started promoting Independence Day sales.

Analysts saw plenty to like in June. Forecasting firm LMC Automotive said automakers are carefully balancing production with demand, which has helped them maintain profits and cut back on big incentives that can hurt resale values.

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While incentives may be lower, buyers are taking advantage of good lease offers and low interest rates.

GM’s sales were up 1 percent over last June despite a continuing parade of recalls. GM’s safety recalls for the year reached 29 million vehicles on Monday, when the automaker announced six new recalls of 8.4 million cars.

Kelley Blue Book analyst Alec Gutierrez said GM is benefiting from its new lineup of SUVs, which hit the market at a time when buyers are gravitating toward bigger vehicles. 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. Cadillac Escalade sales were up 57 percent.

Toyota’s sales rose 3 percent as the Camry and Corolla sedans posted double-digit gains. Sales of the new 4Runner SUV were up 42 percent.

Ford’s sales dropped 6 percent as the company cut back on discounts for the F-Series pickup, the best-selling vehicle in the United States.

Chrysler’s sales jumped 9 percent on strong demand for the new Jeep Cherokee SUV and other models.

Honda’s sales were flat. Sales of most models declined, including the Odyssey minivan and CR-V SUV, but sales of the Accord and Civic were up.

Nissan’s sales rose 5 percent on strong sales of the Rogue . Sentra sales rose 68 percent.

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