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Chrysler sales surge 20.1%, GM rises 7.6%, Ford up 8.9%
The Detroit Three gained U.S. market share in July, as demand for cars and light trucks managed to beat expectations despite troubling economic news.

Chrysler had its best July since 2007 to lead Detroit’s automakers with a 20.1% surge, off a 33% gain in sales to individual customers. General Motors’ U.S. sales rose 7.6% last month and Ford’s grew 8.9%. Japanese automakers continued to lose share to their American rivals as they recovered from the March earthquake and tsunami in their country.

Overall, U.S. sales crept up 0.9% from July 2010. A mandatory adjustment in the calculation of the seasonally adjusted sales rate boosted it to 12.2 million units, IHS Automotive analyst Rebecca Lindland said. That’s up from 11.5 million in June. Analysts had expected a rate just under 12 million units.

Still, demand stayed stuck below the average of 12.6 million from the first half of the year. Consumers stayed out of showrooms amid news of climbing unemployment and bitter debate over raising the U.S. debt ceiling to prevent the country from defaulting on its loans tonight. President Barack Obama this afternoon signed a bill that prevents that scenario.

“Uncertainty in our business is always bad for consumers,” said Don Johnson, GM’s vice president of U.S. sales operations, of the debt-ceiling debate. “Hopefully with that behind us, some of those consumers are going to come back into the market.”

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