GM Surprises With 1% Sales Gain in June but Ford Sales Drop 6%

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Detroit ( TheStreet) -- Auto sales in June were surprisingly strong, as the month had two fewer selling days than June 2013 and GM  faced widely publicized problems, including a massive recall.

GM, which had been expected to show a sales decline, reported Wednesday that sales for the month rose 1%.  Chrysler sales rose 9%. Ford sales fell 6%.

GM and Chrysler both reported their best June since 2007. Also, Chrysler projected the June seasonally adjusted light-vehicle annual sales rate to be 17 million, surpassing even the most optimistic forecast issued in the last week of June. GM said Wednesday that the SAAR was 16.6 million. In any case, the SAAR was above 16 million for the fourth consecutive month.

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GM delivered 267,461 vehicles. Retail sales rose 1% and fleet sales rose 2%. GM said that on a selling-day adjusted basis, a rarely used measure, its sales rose 9% and retail sales rose 9%.

"June was the third very strong month in a row for GM, with every brand up on a selling-day adjusted basis," said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president of sales operations, in a prepared statement. "In fact, the first half of the year was our best retail sales performance since 2008, driven by an outstanding second quarter."

Sales of the Cruze, halted in the last week of June, fell 21% to 26,008. Silverado sales gained 0.6% to 43,519.

GM's said its commercial fleet business posted its eighth consecutive monthly increase for the best June since 2007. "It's clear that our commercial and small business customers are expecting a strong second half of the year and they are building their fleets to meet demand," McNeil said.

Ford said sales totaled 222,064 vehicles, with retail sales down 5% and fleet sales down 7%. Nevertheless, Fusion had its best June ever, with sales of 27,064, up 14% from the same month a year earlier. Fusion retail sales rose 22% including a 24% sales gain in the west.

"Both the Fusion and Transit Connect set records in June, continuing their sales momentum," said John Felice, Ford vice president, U.S. marketing, sales and service, in a prepared statement. "F-Series again topped 60,000 sales and is tracking to our inventory plan with the lowest incentives among the major players in the segment."

Focus sales rose 13.5% to 26,266. But Escape sales fell 12.5% to 25,110 and F-Series sales fell 11% to 60,560. Also, Lincoln sales fell 2.7% to 7,271 as the new MKC began to arrive in showrooms.

Chrysler said sales totaled 171,086 vehicles, its best June sales total since 2007.