DETROIT—U.S. light vehicle sales, fueled by healthy truck demand and gains at most major auto makers, increased 5.3 percent in July, helping the industry begin the second half of 2015 on a strong note.
Light trucks set the pace, rising 11 percent last month, while car demand slipped 1.8 percent.
Ford Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co., Honda Motor Co., General Motors, Fiat Chrysler and Hyundai-Kia all had gains between 5 percent and 8 percent while Subaru scored its sixth double-digit advance of the year.
The seasonally adjusted annual sales rate jumped to 17.55 million—the second-highest tally in a decade. The SAAR has now topped 17 million in four out of seven months this year.
Summer deals, pent-up demand, falling gasoline prices, low interest rates and steady employment gains continue to outweigh sluggish consumer spending and weak wage growth to spur higher new-vehicle demand.
“Improving economic fundamentals should support continued job growth and a good environment for vehicle buying,” said Yong Yang, Ford's senior economist for the Americas. “Industry performance should stay strong throughout 2015.”
With a 5 percent increase, Ford more than doubled the pace of its first-half advance. Honda and GM had their biggest jumps since January. Nissan set July records for the company and its namesake brand. FCA US ended its streak of monthly sales gains to 64.
“The second half of 2015 is off to a great start, with industry sales above expectations,” said Kurt McNeil, GM's U.S. vice president of sales operations.
Industry volume was forecast by analysts to climb about 2.8 percent.