Glimmer of hope in dismal auto sales

Chrysler Group LLC reported vehicle sales fall of 42 percent in June compared to the same month last year. However, the Auburn Hills-based carmaker attributed the sales drop to a 95 percent reduction in fleet sales and noted a 1 percent market share increase in retail sales compared to last June.

"We are proud our new company starts out its first month with increasing market share and continued strong retail sales," said Peter Fong, Chrysler brand president and lead executive for the company's sales organization.

Overall, Chrysler sold 68,297 vehicles in June. Out of the 26 vehicles Chrysler's brands offered, none saw an increase in sales in June and for the year, Chrysler sales have fallen 40 percent.

General Motors Corp. offered more positive news, saying more people are coming back into dealerships.

Car and truck sales fell 33.6 percent in June when compared to the same month last year, GM executives said Wednesday afternoon.

Overall, GM sold 176,571 vehicles during the month, which is down year over year, but up 10 percent compared with May sales.

"We're pleased with our retail performance for the month, and it shows consumers' strong attraction to our products … which all saw retail sales gains compared with May," said Mark LaNeve, vice president, GM North America sales, service and marketing, in a news release.

"Customers are cautiously coming back into the market, although the industry remains very weak," LaNeve added.

News from Ford Motor Co. was slightly more optimistic. The company reported a 10.9 percent sales drop for June in the U.S. compared from a year ago, a far smaller drop than in previous months and a sign that auto sales may be recovering.

Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Corp. reported a sales drop of 34.6 percent in June, compared with the same month last year. The Japanese carmaker said it sold 131,654 vehicles during the month. While the mid-size Toyota Camry remained the company's highest volume vehicle, the company noted that 2010 Prius sales were up 6.1 percent, totaling nearly 13,000 cars, compared to last June. Detroit News

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