By Ankit Ajmera
(Reuters) – The pace of U.S. auto sales slowed in June compared to a year ago, as slumping sales of sedans offset strong demand for pickups and sport utility vehicles.
The seasonally adjusted annual sales pace for June was 16.66 million, according to Autodata Corp, down from 17 million vehicles a year earlier. Sales fell for General Motors Co, Toyota Motor Corp and Volkswagen.
GM, the biggest U.S. automaker, said its sales fell 1.6 percent to 255,210 vehicles in June due to lower sales of Buick and GMC vehicles as the company continued to cut lower-margin sales to U.S. rental car fleets.
Ford Motor Co , Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Nissan Motor Corp reported improved sales, mainly driven by demand for light trucks.
The latest results come as some industry forecasters are cautioning that U.S. vehicle demand is settling on to a plateau, albeit at levels that are strong by historical standards. However, industry executives remain upbeat.
GM Chief Economist Mustafa Mohatarem said historically low interest rates, stable fuel prices, rising wages and near-full employment would drive strong auto sales in the second half.
Ford Motor Co said sales rose 6.4 percent as it sold more trucks, while higher demand for the Jeep brand pushed Fiat Chrysler Automobiles sales up 7 percent.
“Consumer demand for Ford SUVs also continues to surge to all-time highs,” Ford Vice President Mark LaNeve said.
Although the June results were below some forecasters’ estimates, GM’s shares rose 2 percent to $28.89 a share in trading Friday. Ford’s shares rose 1.2 percent to $12.72, and Fiat Chrysler’s were up nearly 2 percent at $6.24. Toyota Motor’s U.S. Listed shares rose 1 percent.
Toyota reported a 5.6 percent fall in its June sales, primarily due to weaker sales of luxury sedans. German luxury automaker BMW AG suffered a nearly 12 percent sales decline.
(Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Joseph White and Andrew Hay)