Cruze has record month

GM

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The Chevrolet Cruze broke its all-time monthly sales record in June.

General Motors’ June sales report says the Lordstown-built  Cruze set their all-time best monthly sales with 32,871 Cruzes sold in June.

That number eclipses the 25,975 sold in August 2012. June sales were up 73 percent over June 2012.

GM reported they’ve sold 133,689 Cruzes for the first half of 2013, which is a 17 percent increase over last year.

The company overall reported a 14 percent increase in retail customer sales in June.

Sales from the major automakers were expected to show that confident U.S. buyers snapped up new cars and trucks at a strong pace in June.

Chrysler said Tuesday that its sales rose 8 percent for its best June since 2007. Dodge sales were up 12 percent on the strength of the Dodge Dart small car.

The major car companies report June results throughout Tuesday.

Analysts don’t see much that could slow the sales momentum of the first six months.

The things that juiced sales – low interest rates, wider credit availability, rising home construction and hot new vehicles – aren’t going away anytime soon. And so far, hiccups in the stock market, higher taxes and fluctuating gas prices haven’t dampened demand.

Analyst estimate that U.S. auto sales rose 6 to 8 percent in June, compared with the same month last year. The auto pricing site TrueCar.com predicts that dealers sold cars and trucks at an annualized rate of 15.7 million last month, the best rate since December of 2007.

Sales of pickup trucks – which have been selling at a rate three times faster than the rest of the industry – continued at a strong pace in June.

Young graduates may have contributed to a rise in small car sales, said Kelley Blue Book analyst Alec Gutierrez said. Gas prices, which averaged $3.60 per gallon nationwide in June and were higher than a year ago, also may have caused some buyers to look for more fuel-efficient models, he said.

Consumer confidence hit a six-year high in June. And the Standard & Poor’s 500 index had its best first half since 1998, up 12.6 percent, although there was some volatility late last month. At the same time, auto loan rates remained near historic lows in June, with the interest rate on a four-year new car loan averaging 2.7 percent, according to Bankrate.com.

The rate could start rising – slowly – by the end of this year. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said last month that the Fed may start to slow a bond-buying program that has suppressed long-term interest rates.

Bernanke’s comments didn’t impact June sales, analysts said. It often takes buyers six months or more to research and buy a new car, and a stray comment usually isn’t enough to sway them. But if the Fed acts as planned, buyers worried about higher interest rates could rush to buy at the end of this year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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