General Motors Corp. said Friday that sales rose 41 percent in June to their highest monthly total in nearly 19 years. A heavily promoted discount allowed customers to buy cars and trucks at the employee rate.
DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group said it will match GM's offer, starting Wednesday. Ford Motor Co. said it would not, even though its sales declined in June.
Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. all posted their best June sales periods ever in the United States. South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co. said June was its best single month on record.
Chrysler Group said sales were up 1 percent in June and 4 percent in the second quarter. It was the company's seventh consecutive quarter of year-over-year increases.
GM, the world's biggest automaker, said June was its best month since September 1986. Paul Ballew, GM's executive director of global market and industry analysis, said the company will announce soon whether it plans to continue the far-reaching discount, which began June 1 and is scheduled to end Tuesday.
The boom was driven by record truck sales, which increased 69 percent. The Chevrolet Silverado full-size pickup led the industry as its sales more than doubled, GM said.
"We see this as an indication that America's desire for trucks and SUVs is still a strong force in the marketplace," said Mark LaNeve, GM's vice president of North American marketing.
Ballew said GM attracted roughly 150,000 new customers in June. They typically bought vehicles for an average of $400 to $500 less than they paid in May, he said.
GM sales for the first six months of the year rose 2.5 percent. Its truck sales rose 6 percent; car sales fell 3 percent.
Ford said its domestic sales fell 2.5 percent in June from a year ago and dropped 4.3 percent for the first six months of the year despite hits like the sporty Mustang and growing sales of its crossover vehicles. Ford's top sales analyst, George Pipas, said the automaker considered matching GM at the beginning of June but decided to stick with its sales strategy. Ford began offering $1,000 last month to employees who persuaded friends and relatives to buy a Ford. That deal runs through Sept. 30.
Pipas acknowledged GM's program was a huge success but said attracting buyers after the promotion will be more difficult.
"The interesting thing about a clear, compelling message is that it's a clear, compelling message," Pipas said. "Customers know when it's on and when it's off." Chrysler's sales rose 5 percent for the first six months of the year. Gary Dilts, senior vice president of sales, said Chrysler decided to match GM's offer because customers were attracted to its simplicity.
Toyota reported its best-ever June on a 10 percent sales increase, with sales up 11.6 percent for the first six months.
Nissan's sales increased 14.2 percent on the month and are up 15.5 percent for the first half. Honda's sales rose 4.7 percent in June, contributing to a 1.5 percent gain for the year to date.
Hyundai said it set an all-time sales record, with truck sales up 35 percent. Hyundai's car sales were down 11.5 percent, but the company's overall sales were up 10.2 percent for the January-June period.