DETROIT (WWJ) – Car and truck sales are coming in about four percent higher than the very strong June of 2014.

Fiat Chrysler lead the way, with sales up eight percent, the company’s 63rd consecutive year over year sales increase.

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“Our all-new Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500X inventory started to arrive at dealerships in greater volume during June positioning us well for the summer-selling season,” said Fiat Chrysler U.S. sales chief Reid Bigland.

Propelled by the new Chrysler 200, the Chrysler brand posted a 28 percent sales increase. Jeep sales were right behind, up 25 percent.

Jeep brand CEO Mike Manley says the year’s SUV boom is about more than just low gas prices.

“You can get into an SUV, with all the utility they are expecting, with very similar gas mileage than you’d have with a hatch,” he said.

Fiat Chrysler says, for the first time, it sold more vehicles at the retail level than Ford.

Ford posted a two percent sales jump, helped by strong SUV sales, but the launch of the new F-150 still meant limited supplies of the new pickups, and sales of that important model were down 9 percent.

“Strong retail momentum continues building for our newest vehicles – including F-150, Mustang,
Edge, and now Explorer,” said Mark LaNeve, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and
Service. “The Ford brand’s average transaction prices have increased $2,700 versus a year ago
– more than triple the industry average – while our incentives are down, showing how much
customers value our investment in new vehicles with the latest technologies.”

GM also saw strong pickup and SUV sales, but the bottom line number for June was a drop of three percent.

“We’ve made a very conscious decision to reduce our sales to rental customers, because they tend to be less profitable than our sales to other customers,” said GM spokesman Jim Cain.

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GM rental sales were down 45 percent over 2014.

So far this year, 56 percent of all vehicles sold were trucks, a category that includes pickups and SUV’s.

Nissan sales rose 13 percent. Honda and Toyota sales increased 5 percent.

Sales of small SUV’s are now equal in number to sales of small cars.

“The older millennials are finally forming households, they are having families,” said AutoTrader.com analyst Michelle Krebs. “They are opting to get out of their compact and mid size cars and are opting to move into small and mid size sport utilities.”

People are paying more for vehicles, too. Kelley Blue Book estimates the average transaction price in June was $33,340. That’s up $821 from June of 2014.

The high transaction prices are pushing more people into longer term loans and leasing, to keep monthly payments affordable.

Edmunds.com analyst Jessica Caldwell says the strong June performance closes the books on a very good first half of the year.

“This is going to be the strongest first half in many, many years.”

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