By Jesse Snyder, Automotive News
Detroit, Michigan -- All major US automakers posted gains in May -- ranging from Chrysler's 33 percent to Toyota's 7 percent -- as the light-vehicle sales rate hit its highest level this year.
Sales rose 19 percent from May 2009 to 1.1 million light vehicles. It's the eighth-straight monthly auto sales gain, the longest such streak since June 2000. And the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate of 11.8 million was well ahead of analysts' predictions.
General Motors Co. widened its lead over Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Sales USA in what started out this year as a wide-open race for America's best-selling automaker.
In May, GM sold 223 410 light vehicles, well ahead of Ford's 196 671 and Toyota's 162 813.
For decades the unchallenged US sales leader, GM's fortunes had been declining for years even before its 2009 bankruptcy. Between 2008 and 2009, GM's volume lead over Toyota shrank to 300 000 units from more than 700 000. In the same period, a resurgent Ford trimmed the margins both automakers had on it, finishing 2009 less than 100 000 units behind Toyota and less than 400 000 behind GM.
Ford outsold GM in February for the first time in almost two decades; it also has recaptured second place from Toyota so far this year. In March, all three sold within a few thousand units of one another, although GM reclaimed its monthly sales crown.
After stronger April and May results, GM has a significant year-to-date lead over No. 2 Ford, 882 885 to 805 662. Battling to regain momentum after its safety recall flap, Toyota is in the No. 3 spot with 705 938 sales.
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